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Full text of "150 years of Meriden; published in connection with the observance of the city's sesquicentennial, June 17-23, 1956"

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ONE HUNDRED FIFTY YEARS OF MERIDEN 



15° 

YEARS OF MERIDEN 

PUBLISHED IN CONNECTION WITH 

THE OBSERVANCE 
OF THE CITY'S SESQUICENTENNIAL 

JUNE 17-23, 1956 




MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT: 1956 



COPYRIGHT I956 BY THE CITY OF MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT, U.S.A. 
COMPOSED AND PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



Table of Contents 



Foreword 


vii 


Bibliography 


ix 


Song of Meriden 


xii 


Pictorial Sections: 




Facing pages 52, 84, 116, 148, 180, 212, 234, 216 




1. Colonization 


1 


2. Indians 


6 


3. First Meeting Houses 


10 


4. Place Names 


18 


5. Old Houses 


21 


6. « Roads and Travel 


30 


7. Early Schools 


38 


8. Meriden in the Wars 


43 


9. Old Customs, Old Ways and Progress 


50 


MO. Separation from Wallingford 


58 


11. Meriden Mines 


64 


12. Slavery 


66 


13. The Railroad, Past and Present 


69 


14. Industry of the 19th Century 


81 


15. The Civil War 


93 


16. City Government Before 1900 


99 


17. The Spanish War 


108 


18. Street Railways 


111 


19. Notes of a Spacious Era 


113 


20. The Century Turns 


122 


21. The Automobile Age 


125 



22. Theaters, Past and Present 127 

23. Sports Celebrities 134 

24. World War I 138 

25. World War I Memorial and Boulevard 143 

26. The Depression 148 

27. City Government in This Century 152 

28. Local Industry Since 1900 168 

29. World War II 183 

30. The Korean War 193 

31. Labor Unions 194 

32. Public Utilities 196 

33. Meriden Newspapers 201 

34. Financial Institutions 207 

35. Retail Business 218 

36. Parks and Playgrounds 227 

37. The Meriden Post Office 235 

38. Public Institutions 238 

39. Organizations 249 

40. Meriden Churches 262 

41. Meriden Schools; 1860-1956 273 

42. Building Meriden 299 

43. The Sesquicentennial 301 
Index 302 



Foreword 



A city has many aspects, and these aspects change with advancing 
years. 

But one aspect of Meriden is as immutable as the forces of 
nature which brought it into being: its location in the pleasant 
valley rimmed by the unique formations of up-ended stone which 
are its heritage from the glacial age. These hills, with their wooded 
slopes, are the blessing and inspiration of today's generation as 
they were to the first inhabitants who set their homes and houses 
of worship upon the high land in the eastern section to overlook 
a morass which they were still unfitted to conquer. 

Eventually the swamp was covered and made firm. The city 
spread westward, wiping out all traces of the ancient wilderness. 
For more than half of the nineteenth century Meriden was a 
village, until, after 1867, it took shape as a municipality. By 1906 
it had assumed much of the form we know today. 

Meriden is fortunate in many respects, not the least of which 
is its ability to retain some of the village's advantages while 
growing to its present population of 48,000. One of these 
advantages is the closely knit community spirit which binds and 
has always bound it together. It is this spirit which earned for the 
city, during World War II, the national title, officially bestowed 
by the U. S. Government, of the "Ideal War Community." And 
it is this spirit which promises well for future achievements as 
we look now, with pride, at the best which has gone before. 

The hundred years from 1806 to 1906, and the earlier era 
when Meriden was a part of Wallingford, have been recorded 
in previously published histories. But no book has been printed, 
until now, to cover the last 50 years. This volume, authorized 
by the General Committee for the Sesquicentennial, is the first 
effort to bring the story up to date. Its compilation and writing 
were entrusted to a committee of four, which has labored for 
months to sift past and present sources of information and produce 
a work as complete as possible within the limits of allotted space. 

The committee owes much to previous historians, and to 

vii 



numerous individuals of the present who have helped it to gather 
material. Thankfully, it acknowledges the services rendered by 
the following: 

Robert W. Seekamp, Russell H. White, Florence Minkwitz, 
F. Harold Grimes, Eleanor Dossin, Glover A. Snow, John F. 
Molloy, Barbara White, Cyrus Baird, Arthur Service, Arthur 
Barber, and members ,of the staffs of the Meriden Record and 
the Meriden Journal for assistance along the way. Technical 
advice on questions of publication and illustration was given 
by Spencer H. Miller of Miller-Johnson, Inc. and by Harold 
Hugo of the Meriden Gravure Company. 

The Committee 
Sanford H. Wendover 
Blanche Hixson Smith 
Elmo A. Decherd 
Charles A. Newton 



vui 



Bibliography 



A Gazetteer of Connecticut and Rhode Island (1819) 

Pease & Niles 

History of Connecticut — Its People and Institutions 

George L. Clark 

Facts About Connecticut Conn. Chamber of Commerce 

Connecticut Historical Collections John Warner Barber 

Story of Connecticut Charles W. Burpee 

History of Meriden & Wallingford C. H. S. Davis 

Century of Meriden Curtis — Gillespie 

Guide to History & Historic Sites of Conn. Crofut 

Story of Connecticut Lewis Sprague Mills 

The Beginnings of New England John Fiske 

Recollections of a New England Town 

(Faith) Frances Breckenridge 

Century of Silver Earl Chapin May 

Meriden's Centennial Celebration compiled by Atwater 

Historical Sketches of Meriden G. W. Perkins 

History of The Meriden Historical Society 

compiled by C. Marvin Curtis 

1893-4 papers in collection of The Meriden Historical Society 

Connecticut Past and Present Odell Shepard 

Hartford Courant, Magazine section Jan. 1956 

Railway Age (Article by Glover A. Snow) 

Charter and By-laws of the City of Meriden, 1931 

Code of the City of Meriden 

Meriden Municipal Reports 

Meriden City Directories 

Records of the Meriden Chamber of Commerce 

Records of the Manufacturers' Association 

News from Home 

(Letter from Meriden U.S.O. to Meriden men and women 
in the service, copies from Nov. 1943 through Aug. 1955) 

Records of Meriden National Guard Companies in World 
War I Arthur A. Service 

ix 



City Records of World War II compiled by Ernest Kirkby 
Records of the Meriden Community Fund 
History of New Haven County Rockney 
Records compiled by the late Frank E. Sands 
Special editions and the newspaper library of the Meriden Record 
and Meriden Journal 



Sono- of Meriden 



In the heart of old Connecticut 
A few miles from the sea, 
There stands our city, Meriden, 
Ideal Community; 

Tims honored as our country'' s choice 
To share the pride we feel, 
That in the whole United States 
Our city is ideal. 



II 

One hundred fifty years ago, 
A small town was begun; 
Surrounded by protective hills 
And smiled on by the sun. 
The early settlers planted deep 
Their roots within this earth; 
And now, in nineteen fifty-six, 
We celebrate its birth. 



Ill 

The busy hum of industry 

Is heard from day to day; 

Our silvercraft and sparkling jewels 

Are all on world display. 

Although we're modern, up-to-date, 

We are old-fashioned, too; 

We love our concerts in the park, 

Sweet summer's rendezvous. 



IV 

Our City Hall commands a hill 

In strong democracy, 

From where a glance may rest upon 

A mountain or a tree; 

The Christian Church and Synagogue 

Stand closely side by side, 

In friejidly peace as God would wish 

All people to abide. 



To God we pray upon this day 

That faith in Him increase, 

To build for children after us 

An everlasting peace; 

That through all time we'll keep the name 

We are so prideful of, 

The Silver City of the world, 

The place of home and love. 

- LYDIA B. ATKINSON 



CHAPTER ONE 



Colonization 



One hundred and fifty years ago Meriden attained its identity 
as a separate community. It was in 1806 that the General Assembly 
in Hartford granted a petition from the residents of the northern 
part of the town of Wallingford asking recognition as an incor- 
porated town on equal footing with its parent, Wallingford. 
The first town meeting of Meriden was held in June, 1806. 

The history of Meriden, however, goes much further back. 
It must include not only the Wallingford background from which 
it stemmed. An understanding of the character of the people who 
founded Meriden depends upon knowing something of the causes 
of the migration which turned an erstwhile wilderness into cul- 
tivated farmlands. Meriden's history does not go back to the 
very beginnings of New England. Yet her character is shaped 
by the Puritan exodus from Europe as surely as is the charac- 
ter of Massachusetts where the colonists first took root. 

Those first settlers in Massachusetts were rugged individualists. 
Mayflower passengers were followed by a continuing flow of 
immigration caused by religious strife in England. In 1630 a 
thousand Puritan men found their way across the Atlantic with 
John Winthrop at their head, and the Massachusetts settlements 
were firmly established. These men were less in search of political 
liberty than of freedom to live by the Bible as they interpreted 
it. The Bible was to them a code of law. Anyone who would not 
accept their interpretation had no place in their community. 

Soon the seeds of discontent were sown. Massachusetts was 
fertile ground for them. A provision of the colonial government 
ordained that none but church members should vote or hold 
office. Dissenters began to speak out against this narrowed assump- 
tion of power. Not all the clergy approved of so much temporal 
power in the hands of churchmen. One of the most eloquent 
dissenters Was Thomas Hooker, a pastor in New Town, now 
Cambridge. He said that "in matters which concern the com- 
mon good, the general council, chosen by all, to transact busi- 
nesses which concern all, I conceive most suitable to rule and 

1 



COLONIZATION 

most safe for relief of the whole." This was in answer to Win- 
throp who had said: "The best part is always the least, and of 
the best part the wiser part is always the lesser." 

As the historian John Fiske writes, "It is interesting to meet, 
on the very threshold of American history, with such a lucid 
statement of the strongly contrasted views which a hundred and 
fifty years later were to be represented on a national scale by 
Hamilton and Jefferson." It was Thomas Hooker who led a 
hundred or more of his parishioners in 1636 to make a settlement 
in the Connecticut valley, and to bring with them what we now 
call the "Jeffersonian philosophy" of democratic government. 

Thomas Hooker's followers made the Hartford settlement and 
the separate existence of Connecticut began. The Hooker philos- 
ophy was contained in his powerful sermon at the opening of 
the General Court in 1638 when he said "the foundation of 
authority is laid in the free consent of the people." 

In the spring of that same year, 1638, New Haven was founded 
under the leadership of another pastor, John Davenport. He had 
been "converted" by Hooker and others when, back in England, 
he had tried to dissuade them from their plan to emigrate to the 
New World. Accordingly he recruited a group of merchants 
from Yorkshire, Kent, and Hertfordshire to come with him. 
Their arrival in Boston coincided with some of the bitterest dis- 
putes between the tolerant and the intolerant. Davenport found 
Boston uncomfortable. His flock wanted a good harbor and a 
site with a commercial future. They also wanted a place where 
they could match their civil management to their own particu- 
lar interpretation of Scriptural guidance. 

Davenport and his followers heard about a place called Quinni- 
piack on Long Island Sound. Men who had been on a campaign 
against the Pequot Indians reported in glowing terms on the 
possibility of this location. So the Davenport party began 
their project which rapidly grew to spill over eventually into 
Wallingford and what is now Meriden. Also fresh arrivals from 
England settled Guilford, and a New Haven overflow settled 
Milford. When Stamford was added in 1640 the four towns united 
in a republic of New Haven similar to the confederation of 
towns around Hartford that constituted Connecticut. 

There the similarity ended. Connecticut followed Hooker's 
ideas that the choice of public officials "belongs to the people 



COLONIZATION 

by God's own allowance." In New Haven "pillars of the church" 
governed and were judge-and-jury all in one. The New Haven 
colony was less democratic than Massachusetts from which 
Hookerites had fled. The first settlers of New Haven were the 
wealthiest of any that came to any part of early New England. 
They built large and handsome houses similar to the ones they 
were accustomed to in England. Theophilus Eaton's house on 
Elm street, New Haven, had 19 fireplaces. John Davenport's just 
across the street had 13. One of the most interesting rooms in 
the Davenport house was the "study." Mr. Davenport spent so 
much time with his books that the Indians dubbed him "So 
Big Study Man." 

New Haven and Hartford had been settled for 35 years before 
the settlement of Wallingford was undertaken. It was a formid- 
able project at best. Unfriendly Indians were dangerous. Those 
who professed friendship were viewed with a wary eye. Wolves 
ran rampant and were a constant menace to man and beast. But 
men who had come to this New World to make new lives for 
themselves, had to have lands to cultivate, space to expand. Con- 
sequently a committee from New Haven granted lands held by 
New Haven for the new settlement of Wallingford upon the 
solemn promise of the planters to live the same sort of godly 
community life as the parent New Haven community did. 

Wallingford grew. Farmers moved out in a northerly direction. 
The north part of the town, though owned by Wallingford, was 
not a part of Wallingford, writes Dr. C. H. S. Davis in his history 
of Wallingford and Meriden. With transportation difficult and 
little more than pathways for roads, farmers in the northern 
area found it an increasing annoyance to attend church meetings 
in Wallingford proper. The trip was particularly arduous in 
winter. Probably as early as December, 1724, these Meriden 
farmers held their own church services in homes. Some say there 
were meetings in the Daniel Hall homestead prior to the building 
of a meeting house. 

During this same period Hartford was spilling southward in 
its parallel growth, not only to Wethersfield but to Berlin and 
on beyond. Thus did the Thomas Hooker influence from the 
north meet that of John Davenport from the south right here 
in Meriden. The melding here of the two communities is par- 
ticularly evident in what happened to the Gilbert — later called 



COLONIZATION 

Belcher — farm in the northern part of Meriden. 

The name of Meriden begins to figure in documents of Con- 
necticut's history as early as August 28, 1661, when Jonathan 
Gilbert was granted by the Connecticut Colony "a farm to ye 
number of three hundred acres of upland and fifty acres of 
meadow." When he took possession of the property, Mr. Gilbert 
called it Meriden, although the spelling appears variously in doc- 
uments as "Meridon," "Merrideen" or "Merridan." 

Mr. Gilbert who was a man of considerable means and wide 
interests did not occupy his farm personally. It was first lived 
on by Edward Higbee as tenant, and later in 1686 was pur- 
chased by Gilbert's son-in-law, Andrew Belcher. The name 
Belcher has clung to the area down to present days. By purchase 
and grant Mr. Belcher added to his holdings until the property 
extended to the top of Mt. Lamentation. 

In 1664 Edward Higbee rose in the world from his position 
as Mr. Gilbert's tenant to become a landholder in his own right. 
The land between the Gilbert property and Pilgrims' Harbour 
was deeded to him by a Hartford Indian. Records show that all 
the property north of Harbour Brook had been bought pre- 
viously by New Haven in about 1638 from Montowese. The 
land being more accessible to Hartford than to the New Haven 
Colony, and the original right of the Indian to sell being ques- 
tioned, positive ownership remained in doubt until Gilbert and 
later Higbee established their grants by occupation. 

The land reaching to the edge of the "Meriden Farm" had 
been deeded to Wallingford in 1683 by John Talcott who had 
purchased it from Adam Puit, who in turn claimed title through 
an Indian deed. When the area now known as Meriden had its 
petition granted to be a parish of that name as a part of its parent 
Wallingford, the chance for further controversy about title to 
the lands was officially ended. 

In years that followed attempts were made, successfully blocked 
by Wallingford where there was no desire to lose such a fast 
growing community, to separate the two parishes. While the 
struggle continued the part called Meriden lost to Berlin some 
parts of the original farm which gave the name to the community. 
The part of the original farm which extends from Corrigan's 
Corner to the southern part of Cat Hole Mountain went by 
petition to Berlin in 1798, and in 1803 another strip about a half 



COLONIZATION 

mile wide was added to Berlin in the same way. 

Although Meriden lost some of the "Hookerites" in this 
fashion, there was left enough overlapping into the New Haven 
Colony influence to change the character of the community. It 
might be said Meriden was a melting pot into which converged 
fragments from those original migrations of organic commu- 
nities to the north and to the south. 

In The Beginnings of New England, John Fiske says that in 
these movements, not of individuals, but of whole communities, 
"united in allegiance to a church and a pastor, and fervid with 
the instinct of self-government, we seem to see Greek History 
renewed but with centuries of added political training." He 
writes that the government of the United States is in lineal de- 
scent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to any of 
the other thirteen colonies. Connecticut's strength lay in the fact 
that it was a federation of independent towns with the individual 
communities retaining all the attributes of sovereignty not ex- 
pressly granted to the General Court of the colony. 

In 1643 New Haven Colony joined with Massachusetts Bay, 
Plymouth, and Connecticut to form the United Colonies of New 
England. Soon after this Roger Ludlow was requested by the 
Connecticut General Court "to take some paynes in drawing 
forth a body of Lawes for the governing of this Comon welth." 
His code of laws was adopted four years later. A quite different 
code was put forth by the Colony of New Haven. These are the 
two documents so often referred to as the "Blue Laws," both 
containing precepts popularly supposed to be stiff-necked. 

Connecticut Colony's John Winthrop was a man of great tact. 
Somehow he persuaded Charles II to sign in 1662 the Charter 
of Connecticut which gave that colony a freedom from the 
mother country enjoyed by no other British colony. It was 
possession of this Charter which persuaded New Haven Colony, 
albeit unwillingly, to unite eventually with Connecticut Colony. 

So it is that Meriden, sitting in the middle between the two 
sections, occupied by people stemming from both, is marked by 
a fusion of the spirit of both. Meriden's character always con- 
tained considerable respect for the aristocratic and theocratic 
features of the original new Haven Colony, but was from the first 
permeated with fervent devotion to democratic principles char- 
acteristic of the founders of Connecticut Colony. 



CHAPTER TWO 



Indians 

In no part of New England were the Indians so numerous as 
in Connecticut, says Dr. Davis in his history of Meriden and 
Wallingford. Deforest as an expert on Connecticut Indians esti- 
mated the number at from six to seven thousand. Other sources 
push the number considerably higher. (The quantity of fish, 
fowl, and game afforded by Connecticut made the area attrac- 
tive to the Indians.) At any rate when John Davenport and his 
followers arrived in New Haven they found red men in pos- 
session. 

The Mattabesitt tribe lived in and around the present site of 
Middletown, — "river Indians," they lived near the waterway 
but roamed for great distances. At the time of the settlement of 
New Haven, Sowheag was the great sachem of the Mattabesitt 
tribe ruling from a fort on high ground near the narrows of 
the Connecticut River, his power extending over what are now 
Meriden and Wallingford. It was this sachem who sold the land 
to Davenport and his company. 

To Sowheag, to the Quinnipiacs, and other Indians with any 
claim to the area taken over including East, North, and New 
Haven, Woodbridge, Orange, Branford, Cheshire, and Hamden 
in addition to Meriden and Wallingford, the well-to-do mer- 
chants from London via Boston paid in goods. Odell Shepard 
lists the payment to the Quinnipiacs at twenty-four coats, 
twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen knives, twelve spoons, 
twelve pewter porringers, and four cases of French knives and 
"sizers." 

The deed for the transaction with the Mattabesitts deals with 
the sachem's son Mantowese, whose mother seems to have been 
the actual lineal inheritor of the land transferred. To Mantowese 
Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, et al., paid eleven coats made of 
trucking cloth, one coat for himself of English cloth, made after 
the English manner, and one reserve piece of land for planting 
what his small band of followers might need. It all seemed very 
friendly with a mutual agreement to make reparation for any 



INDIANS 

damages incurred by either side — by the Indians' dogs on the 
white man's cows or by the white man's hogs on the Indian corn. 

Indians in this part of Connecticut actually welcomed the 
arrival of the English among them. They hoped to obtain assist- 
ance from the new settlers in defense against depredations of 
Pequots and Mohawks. Both of these tribes were constantly on 
the warpath and demanding tribute from weaker, less warlike 
peoples like the Mattabesitts. 

Meriden was never used as a permanent camping ground by 
any tribe, but it was the happy hunting ground of both the 
Quinnipiacs and Mattabesitts, says Robert W. Seekamp, past pres- 
ident of the Archaelogical Society of Connecticut and a Meriden 
resident. Mr. Seekamp has made an exhaustive study of Indian 
lore and Indian relics. We are indebted to him for the following 
information. 

The Quinnipiacs numbered some 400 when the Davenport 
party purchased the New Haven area. For centuries they had 
lived at the East Haven site on New Haven harbor during the 
rigors of cold winters. Milder temperatures along the Sound and 
access to salt water game and shellfish attracted them to make 
their permanent home on the coast. During milder and warm 
weather they journeyed up the Quinnipiac river, making tem- 
porary campsites near spring holes or where game was most 
plentiful. 

The trails followed by those Indians are today the highways 
we use. The road from Red Bridge to Cheshire was an Indian 
trail, as is also Capitol Avenue from West Main through the 
pass to Kensington, West Main to Milldale, East Main to the 
reservoir, and Preston Avenue from Baldwin to Westfield Road. 

Temporary campsites have left their marks in the presence of 
a profusion of old weathered clam and oyster shells, flint and 
quartz chips and Indian artifacts. Such reminders of the Indian 
past have been found on the old Raven farm at Meriden airport, 
around the spring on Meeting House Hill, in the vicinity of 
Red Bridge and up on Allen Hill, in the hummocks north of 
Peat Works Pond, at the base of Mt. Lamentation near the 
Houston property, Spruce Glen, and down on the lower reaches 
of South Broad street. 

The historian John Fiske says there can be little doubt that the 
material comfort of the Indians was for a time considerably im- 



INDIANS 

proved by their dealings with white men. Their want of fore- 
sight and thrift left them to face an annual struggle against famine 
during the harshness of winter. When the settlers came the In- 
dians had a good market for the skin of every fur-covered animal 
they could catch. If trade didn't provide them with all they 
needed, they could count on the white man's charity. 

Not only do Connecticut records show that every bit of land 
was obtained by honest purchase from the Indians, save for 
territory conquered in the Pequot war, but the general laws 
prove there was every intent to treat the Indians justly. No mat- 
ter how good the white man's intentions, his way of life, his very 
aspirations that had brought him to the New World, made him 
interfere with the ways of the Indian. Even the friendly Indians 
of this section of Connecticut where Meriden is located, Indians 
who remained allies of the English first in the Pequot war and 
later in King Philip's War, found themselves pushed out in the 
march of progress. 

After all it is hard to tell today how much the Indians actually 
understood what it meant to "sell" their property. They had 
known no such thing as private ownership of land as the white 
settlers understood it. They lived a tribal life. Their land be- 
longed to the tribe for the use of everyone. They shared hunt- 
ing and fishing rights on certain "preserves" with other tribes. 
Their idea of the "sale" of land on which Meriden now stands 
might very well have been that it was just a general invitation 
to white men to share the tribal privilege in return for which 
the white man would share his arts of defense against enemy 
tribes. We cannot be too smug about the purchase by which 
was acquired our Meriden heritage at the expense of the gradual 
eclipse of the red men who once hunted and fished the land 
and waters. 

Remnants of the Mattabesitts became pitifully few. Hardly 
more remained of the Quinnipiacs. Land was bought for them 
eventually up Farmington way among the Tunxis, after their 
last sachem died on the old reservation held in East Haven. The 
Hartford Courant magazine section of January 22, 1956, carried 
a piece by Lawrence C. Nizza about the four remaining Indian 
Reservations in Connecticut. Situated in North Stonington, Led- 
yard, Kent, and Trumbull, they comprise together 799 acres 
and contain 15 houses. Only 23 recognized tribal members live 



INDIANS 

on the reservations part-time, or the year-round. 

Most of the descendants of the original Indians have married 
with other ethnic groups. Integration is so complete that there 
seems no further need for reservations or special handling of 
"Indian affairs." How much of our Mattabesitts or Quinnipiacs 
from this section remains in the life blood of the present gen- 
eration is a question. But the little knowledge we have of their 
presence here when the white men came adds that aura of an- 
tiquity to our history which gives it color. As Odell Shepard says 
the possession of even a little Indian lore deepens the Connecti- 
cut landscape enormously by lending the dimension of time. 

Throughout Indian Connecticut, according to Shepard, it was 
believed that the men who lived in this place had a special access 
to the Divine. Indians here had a particular awe for stones. Indian 
lore has it that larger boulders in field and forest were kept always 
well supplied with offerings of corn or trailing moss. Huge rocks 
were chosen for council meetings. So we may believe that Meri- 
den's Hanging Hills and the rocky promontories of Mt. Lamen- 
tation still echo with reverent, philosophical tributes from the 
Indian orators of the distant past. 



CHAPTER THREE 



First Meeting Houses 



As early as 1679 the people of Wallingford voted to build a 
"meeting house," a building 28 feet long, 24 feet wide and 10 
feet high. So small was the group, and so burdened were they 
by poverty and the business of merely living, that it took several 
years for the completion of this small building. Two years later 
there was another vote, "to go on and finish the house." As their 
population and wealth increased, they enlarged this first meeting 
house to 40 by 28 feet. This was in 1690 when the town had 
grown to 73 families. The following year it was voted to "ceiling 
the house" and to build two pews. This was evidence of great 
luxury because, before this, seating arrangements had been long 
hard benches, occupied on one side of the house by men and 
boys, and on the other by females of the congregation. Growth 
and change continued, even as they do today, and in April 1706, 
we find "The town chose Deken Hall, Samuel Roys and Goodman 
Culvert, a commetee to procure workmen to come and buld 
gallers (galleries) for the In largement of the meeting hous." 

During this time the people who lived on farms scattered 
about the north section of town had great difficulty in getting 
to meeting, especially in winter. Roads were scarcely more than 
paths through the woods and swamps, and horseback was the only 
means of transportation. Consequently, these devout people peti- 
tioned to hold their own religious services closer to their homes. 
On the town records of Wallingford, under the date of Decem- 
ber 1, 1724, appears the following: "In respect of ye north 
farmers the town voated that they may hire a Minister four 
months this winter on their own charge." This vote was the 
first act that in any way separated the area of Meriden from 
Wallingford, or that recognized that these north farmers num- 
bering 35 families, were a distinct community. 

That same spring, at the May session of the General Assembly, 
this resolution was passed: "Upon the petition of the north 
farmers in Wallingford and those inhabiting the land northward 
of said Wallingford, commonly called Wallingford Purchase 

10 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

Lands. This Assembly grants that they be a separate society for 
setting up and carrying on the publick worship of God among 
themselves, with all such liberties, powers and priviledges, as 
other such societies in this colony have and do by law enjoy . . . " 
In May 1728 the farm of Meriden was added, and the parish 
from then on was known by that name. 

Therefore, although there are no records to prove it, it can be 
assumed that after December 1724 the farmers of Meriden no 
longer made the arduous journey to Wallingford on Sunday, 
but had a place of worship in their own territory. There is a tradi- 
tion that these services were held in the Daniel Hall homestead 
until the meeting house was built. 

An entertaining tale, which may or may not be true, is often 
told in connection with the building of this first church in 
Meriden. According to the story, the farmers living in the most 
northerly section, along the old road, and those to the west, in 
Milking Yard and Pilgrim's Harbor, wanted the meeting house 
to, be located near the junction of Curtis and Ann Streets; but 
those living to the east, near Dog's Misery, insisted that it be 
built nearer them, on what has since been called Meeting House 
Hill. Finally, it was settled that the building should be placed 
on the western slope of this hill, and the materials were collected 
there, ready for the actual "raising." During the night a group 
of the other faction — presumably the Royces, the Robinsons, 
the Collinses, the Coles, the Fosters and the Merriams — brought 
, teams and hauled the timbers down the hill, over the brook, 
and westward, on what is now Ann Street, to the spot they 
preferred. This, naturally, caused a great furor, but eventually 
the Dog's Misery group won — the Yales, the Iveses, the Whitings, 
the Levits and the Halls. The men who had worked so hard 
in the night to carry out their scheme were forced to haul the 
material back up the hill in broad daylight, their ears, no doubt, 
ringing with the taunts of their adversaries. 

At any rate, in 1727 the meeting house "about thirty feet 
square and built in the very plainest style" was erected on Meet- 
ing House Hill. The site, at what is now the corner of Ann Street 
and Dryden Drive, is marked by a large boulder placed there 
in 1904 by the First Congregational Society. The first burying 
ground in Meriden was about fifty rods to the east, near the top 
of the hill. Two years later the society resolved to form a Church, 

11 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

and on October 22, 1729, after a day of fasting and prayer, the 
Church was duly organized with 51 original members. 

The Reverend Theophilus Hall, of Wallingford, was the first 
preacher. He still held this post at the time of his death 30 years 
later. Toward the end of his life his salary was raised, but for 
many years it was £50 and firewood — about $175 annually — 
a sum which might be paid in either money or provisions. Mr. 
Hall lived in a house at the southeast corner of Curtis and Ann 
Streets and he also owned a large farm in what is now the center 
of uptown Meriden. It was on a part of this farm, slightly east 
of the site of the present Center Church, that the second meet- 
ing house was erected, probably between 1752 and 1755. Un- 
fortunately, the society records until 1755 are missing. Under 
the date of December 11, in that year, is found the first entry 
relating to the new church — a receipt for £150 advanced by 
Mr. Hall for building. Thus, it appears that the church was 
built by Mr. Hall, and that the society gradually repaid him. 

This new meeting house, about 64 by 44 feet in size, replaced 
the earlier one which the society had outgrown in the 25 years 
since it had been built with such unchristianlike behavior on 
the part of its members. Originally, this second building had 
no bell nor steeple, but these were added in 1803. For 75 years 
this structure served continuously as a place of worship. 

In 1831 the present Center Church was built on almost the 
same spot. This was about the first building of any architectural 
pretensions to grace our town. Together with its neighbor, the 
First Baptist Church, built in 1847, it still adds charm and beauty 
to our city today. 

There was a division in the organization in 1848 when a part 
of the congregation moved with their pastor to the "Corner" 
in West Meriden and built a church there. Those who remained 
took the name of Center Congregational Church. The white 
colonial wooden church at the "Corner" was replaced in 1876 
by the granite structure, located a little farther north on Colony 
Street, and known today as the First Congregational Church. 

The Baptists have the next longest history in this area. The 
church which was organized in Wallingford, with about 10 
families, in 1735 (or 1739) was the third Baptist Church in the 
entire colony. This church, however, ceased to exist after a time, 
but some of the families continued to hold to their faith, and in 

12 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

1786 another Baptist Society, consisting of 12 members, was 
organized in Meriden. For several years after this, meetings were 
held in homes in the southeastern part of town. Their first house 
of worship was a dwelling purchased near the present dividing 
line of Meriden and Wallingford to accommodate Baptists liv- 
ing in both towns. In 1815 the Meriden Baptists built a second 
meeting house, nearer the center, on a site which is now the 
south corner of Broad and Charles Streets. This building was 
sometimes spoken of in derision as the "Salt Box," from its un- 
pretentious appearance and scanty furnishings. Fifteen years 
later the society moved this house to a lot directly across the 
street, adjoining the Broad Street graveyard. At this time the 
structure was raised over a basement story, and was also adorned 
with a steeple. This remained the place of worship for the society 
until 1847 when they built the beautiful church which today 
stands almost next to the Center Congregational. 

Here again, there appears to have been some argument, and 
no doubt tempers once more were hot, because the Congregational 
Society placed an injunction to deter the construction of this new 
church so close to theirs. It was pointed out that there was no 
objection to the Baptists "as a Christian people, as good neighbors 
and worthy citizens." The Congregationalists' argument was that 
the Baptist minister had "a peculiarly sharp ringing voice, so 
that beyond a question, he would disturb their society in wor- 
ship." 

The Episcopal Church in Meriden was organized about 1789 
in the Moses Andrews homestead on West Main Street, now 
the home of the Meriden Historical Society. Samuel Andrews, 
a brother of Moses Andrews, was the last missionary to the 
Episcopal Church in Wallingford, in the service of "The Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." When the 
Revolutionary War broke out all Episcopalians were suspected 
of being Tories, and Moses Andrews was forbidden to leave his 
farm without special permission of the town selectmen. After 
his petition to attend church in Wallingford was denied, Moses 
decided to have a church in his own home. Using slabs and 
blocks of wood from a neighboring sawmill as benches, he in- 
vited his neighbors in for weekly services, at which he was the 
lay reader. With these simple beginnings, a society was formally 
organized in 1789, preceded by a declaration of conformity to 

13 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

the Church of England, and Moses became its first clerk. It was 
not until 1816 that a tiny wooden structure was built on the 
southeast corner of the old burying ground on Broad Street 
(probably the very spot where Olive Street is now) and con- 
secrated as St. Andrew's Church. 

Mrs. Frances A. Breckenridge in her charming book, Recol- 
lections of a New England Town, describes one of the festivals 
held in this first church: "In the very first years of the existence 
of St. Andrew's as a parish the yearly Christmas 'illumination', 
as it was then called, was with tallow candles. Wooden frames 
to fit the windows were so arranged that a candle was at each 
window pane. These panes were about seven by nine inches, and 
probably thirty panes to a window. The frames were carefully 
kept from year to year to be produced and used at the proper 
time. A chandelier of tin, precariously suspended from the arched 
ceiling in the center of the church, and side lights of tin fastened 
to the posts which supported the galleries, held the inevitable 
tallow candles. All of these that were accessible were duly vis- 
ited once in a half hour or so by someone armed with the 
'snuffers'. The inaccessible lights had to be left with toppling 
wicks to drip tallow onto whomsoever it might fall. The last 
illumination was in 1833 or 1834. Until the later years of the 
century the festival of Christmas was only observed by the 
small congregation that worshiped at St. Andrew's Episcopal 
Church. Except, that persons from other denominations would 
attend there upon Christmas eve to hear the music. The little 
church was always crowded on these occasions, as their annual 
recurrence was the one musical event of the year." 

This earlier church was replaced by "a new and elegant Gothic 
church of brownstone" in 1848. Within twenty years the in- 
creasing membership of the parish made it necessary to build a 
larger place of worship. Therefore, in 1866, this second church 
was taken down and the stone from it used for erecting the 
present St. Andrew's Church on East Main Street. 

This, then, is the story of the three church societies estab- 
lished in Meriden during the eighteenth century, and of their 
houses of worship which, in the early days of the last century, 
clustered about the old burying ground on Broad Street. 

One other denomination, the Methodist, was established in 
town before the middle 1800's. About 1830 a meeting house was 

14 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

built on East Main Street. Mrs. Breckenridge has this to say 
about it: "Near the bars that lead into the East Cemetery is 
the barnlike Methodist Church, with its bare wooden benches 
and packing box pulpit. To this house, one bleak, snowy Jan- 
uary day, queer Treacher' Baldwin brought his infant child 
to be baptized by himself, his wife the only witness. He had the 
grace and mercy to borrow a bowl of warm water . . . The 
building . . . was bought, moved onto Curtis Street and made 
into a joiner's shop. It was finally set on fire by some children 
playing in the old pulpit, and was burned to the ground." Ac- 
tually, the Methodist Society was not organized until 1844, fol- 
lowing a series of revival meetings held in what was known as 
"Old Bethel," a long shop owned by Charles Parker. Here the 
congregation sat on boxes which gave them a good view of the 
preacher. In summer a large tent was pitched in an open lot be- 
tween High and Broad Streets. It was 1847 when the society 
built a wooden church on Broad Street near Charles. This was 
used until the First Methodist Episcopal Church, at the corner 
of East Main and Pleasant Streets, was erected in 1867. 

Perhaps we should digress for a moment to discover what 
"going to meeting" was like in these early days of Meriden. 
First of all, the houses of public worship were never heated. In- 
deed, to have done so would have been considered a sign of 
degeneracy, if not of actual profanation. Even as late as 1831, 
when the present Center Congregational Church was built, "it 
was with great difficulty that the society could be induced even 
to allow chimneys to be built, though they were to be erected 
gratuitously." In winter the temperature must have been bitter 
for the people, many of whom had traveled several miles on 
horseback or on foot to reach the meeting house. The only 
artificial heat allowed was that from the women's foot stoves, 
little square metal boxes filled with glowing coals from the home 
hearth. 

It has been told that men with bald spots were sometimes forced 
to put their mittens on their heads to keep warm; and preachers 
often complained that their voices were drowned by the noise 
of persons stamping their feet to keep them from freezing. The 
prayers, during which the congregation stood, were long and 
sermons even longer. In 1849 the Reverend George W. Perkins 
wrote, "As prayers and sermons then (before 1800) were much 

15 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

longer than 'moderns' will endure, the winter hearers of those 
days must have endured a species of martyrdom. ... As a partial 
relief to such suffering, some persons built near the church, what 
are often mentioned in the old records as 'Sabbath day houses' — 
little cabins about 10 feet square, finished with a fireplace, chim- 
ney and some chairs. Here the owner retired with his family 
at the intermission, and partook of some refreshment prepara- 
tory to the freezing process of the afternoon." 

There were probably several Sabbath day houses around the 
first meeting house, and one was plainly mentioned in a deed of 
1740, as standing on land north of the church. But the second 
meeting house must have had a rash of them, because at least 
13, and maybe more, stood east and north of the church. The 
first entry on the land records referring to these houses was 
made on July 23, 1757, when Theophilus Hall deeded to "Deacon 
Benjamin Whiting, Ensign Amos Camp and Bezaleel Ives a spot 
of land sufficient for three Sabbath day houses with stables adjoin- 
ing, of the dimensions of those now standing on said spot . . ." 
These men lived in the extreme southeast district, too far away 
for them to go to their homes during the "nooning" on Sundays. 
Also near the church stood two "Sabba' day" houses, each of 
which was 20 feet square and was probably shared by two or three 
families. According to Mrs. Breckenridge, "The one room had a 
fireplace, and the fuel and a barrel of cider were provided by 
'joining'." This fireplace was also useful for replenishing the coals 
in the women's foot stoves. 

Even in the second Congregational meeting house the seats 
must have been mere benches, because the story is told of a 
restless little girl who "slipped from the seat and made her way 
under the benches, on all fours, to the door where finally she was 
captured by her dismayed pursuers on the last step." 

In addition to frigid temperatures in winter, hard seats and 
sermons "timed by an hourglass which was sometimes turned 
twice before the word 'lastly' was heard," the congregations of 
those days were plagued by the tithing man. He not only took 
up the collection, but kept order, particularly in the galleries, 
and tickled, with a fox tail or rabbit's foot on the end of a pole, 
those inclined to sleep, and also prevented anyone from leaving 
before meeting was ended. 

The singing, too, was very different from our present idea of 

16 



FIRST MEETING HOUSES 

church music. The two or three tunes, which never varied from 
one year to another, were keyed from a pitch pipe and were 
sung without benefit of instrumental accompaniment of any kind. 
In old records there was frequent mention of a curious custom, 
that of "beating the drum" on the Sabbath. Since the early 
meeting houses had no bells, a substitute was found in a drum. 
According to the records of 1673, one "Sam'll Monson shall be 
allowed 40 s. for maintaining and beating the Drum in good 
order for the yeare ensuing." 



17 



CHAPTER FOUR 



Place Names 



The name of Meriden derived from "Meriden Manor" by 
which Andrew Belcher dignified the estate he owned by purchase 
from Jonathan Gilbert. Since the property is referred to as 
Meriden before it was acquired by Mr. Belcher, the supposition 
is that the choice was Gilbert's. There is no proof of why he 
selected the name. It has been suggested it was because it means 
"pleasant valley" and consequently was, and still is, an apt de- 
scription of that part of Meriden. 

Perkins' Historical Sketches gives a totally different explana- 
tion which has long been a popular folk story here. He says the 
name is compounded of "merry" and "den." Since there were 
so many merry meetings of travelers in the old stone house over 
which Andrew Belcher presided as host of the inn, the place 
acquired the affectionate nickname of "Merry-Den." 

It is generally believed, however, that the true source of the 
name is Meriden, England. Nor is this assumption less prosaic 
than the folklore so suggestive of revels. Scenically, topographi- 
cally, Meriden in Warwickshire is very like this piece of Con- 
necticut. Furthermore it lies in the very center of England. 

One of London's great daily newspapers carried some years 
ago a feature article on the British Meriden which remains to 
this day a quiet little town, quite outstripped in population and 
industry by her American namesake in Connecticut. The writer of 
the piece illustrated his feature by a drawing which represented a 
cut-out map of England poised in perfect balance on the tip of 
a sharply pointed pencil. The spot thus demonstrated as the exact 
center of England was the village of Meriden. 

Meriden, Connecticut, is not the precise center geographically 
of its state. But its location earns the description of "central." 
Moreover it was certainly the center upon which converged the 
two strongest Puritan influences which fused into the democratic 
philosophy which in turn sired our American Constitution. 

There is a little story related by Odell Shepard in his Con- 
necticut Past and Present which says a visiting Frenchman in 

18 



PLACE NAMES 

Washington to study our form of government heard of one 
famous American after another who had been born in Con- 
necticut. He looked in an atlas to discover the location of this 
phenomenal place and found it to be "only a little yellow spot 
on the map." Years later he was called upon for a Fourth of July 
oration before a group of Americans in Paris. He spoke of Con- 
necticut as "that little yellow spot on the map that makes the 
clock-pedlar, the schoolmaster, and the senator. The first of these 
gives you time; the second tells you what to do with it; and the 
third makes your law and civilization." 

Meriden has produced its clock-pedlars, schoolmasters and 
senators. She is typical Connecticut. Odell Shepard also speaks 
of the way "Meriden crouches . . . beside her mounded hills." 
Between her hills there are valleys, ponds, and streams still known 
by names used by the earliest settlers. For instance Jonathan 
Gilbert's first grant of land was specified as in the "vicinity of 
Cold Spring." Derivation of that name is easily understood since 
waters welling out of masses of rocks there are sparkling and 
cold. 

Professor Silliman wrote about Cold Spring for the American 
Journal of Science back in 1821. He described a natural icehouse 
in the masses of fallen trap rock where "ice remains usually the 
year around." He said the small brook running to the south of 
the natural icehouse has "been known to the youth of the vicinity 
since the middle of last century, so they have been accustomed 
to resort to this place, in parties, for recreation, and to drink 
the waters of the cold-flowing brook." At one time Cold Spring 
was a projected spa on which considerable sums of money were 
spent for development. 

Nearby "Cat Hole" no doubt was so called because wild 
animals posed a peculiar threat in that narrow cleft between rocky 
hills through which one of the earliest known paths was trodden. 
According to Doctor Davis in his history, Crow Hollow, the 
"locality near Julius Parker's shops about two miles west of the 
city," has an equally obvious source. There were a great many 
crows wont to congregate in the vicinity. "Bangall" on the road 
toward Middletown derived its name, he says, from the fact that 
Captain Benjamin Hall who kept a tavern on the Noah Pomeroy 
place, said a party from Middletown continued their frolics 
there throughout one night and "banged all creation." 

19 



PLACE NAMES 

Pilgrim's Harbor, sometimes without an apostrophe and some- 
times with the apostrophe after the S, was the name of the south- 
western part of Meriden through which Harbor Brook runs. It 
was called by that name in an Indian deed of 1664. Barber's 
history written in 1838 says the name came from a tradition 
about the regicides said to have stopped there in their wanderings. 
But the assumption now is that the name, antedating those flights 
of regicides from political persecution, came from the fact that 
the area offered some protection from cold and winds in the 
nature of a "harbor." 

Black Pond still earns its name without question. Dog's Misery 
nearby, south of the Middletown road, was a morass thickly 
covered with tangled vegetation where wild animals took refuge 
from the chase to the complete bafflement and sometimes to the 
death of dogs on their trail. Meeting House Hill naturally ac- 
quired its name from its selection as the site of the first house 
of worship in Meriden. 

Hanging Hills is another name entirely obvious in origin. Falls 
Plains and Little Plain were once in common usage for the sec- 
tion now referred to as Hanover and the upper section extend- 
ing toward the old main road to Hartford. The first title also 
obviously got its name from the falls in the river going through 
the plain — a plain that was apparently regarded most favorably 
by the pioneers since it was one of the first areas to be staked 
off into lots. 

Turning back to the northeastern section of Meriden, Mt. 
Lamentation broods over the landscape. The Reverend Charles 
A. Goodrich of Hartford writes the story of the source of that 
name. It is a grim tale about a man named Chester who lost his 
bearings one dark and stormy day. He wandered for two days 
and nights, barely escaped plunging off a precipice, and be- 
came slightly demented; and was loudly lamenting before a 
searching party found him. The Goodrich book in which this 
tale appears is called Stories on the History of Connecticut: De- 
signed for the Instruction and Amusement of Young Persons. 
If the Lamentation story is a good sample, the nature of the re- 
vered gentleman's idea of amusement might well be questioned 
by current censors of juvenile literature. 



20 



CHAPTER FIVE 



Old Houses 



There are still standing in Meriden today a number of homes 
which were built in the eighteenth century. Some have been 
carefully preserved through the years, others have been lovingly 
restored, and a few have been so altered that it is difficult to 
recognize them for what they are. 

The oldest house in town is undoubtedly the 1711 Club Inn, 
on North Colony Street. As its name implies, it was built in that 
year, by one Solomon Goffe of Wethersfield. His deed gave this 
indefinite description of the property, "the farm is in the woods 
and bounds west on the Country road and extends north, east 
and south." The chimneys in the cellar of this house are enormous 
and the stones are cemented with clay mixed with straw, as are 
the foundation walls. The old rafters, huge floor beams, and split 
laths also indicate the age of the building. The first addition 
to the house, which looks as old as the rest, was probably made 
by Jonathan Collins who bought the property in 1729. At present 
it is, as it has been for a number of years, a popular eating place. 

Less than a mile north of here, on the west side of the road, on 
a bank protected by a stone wall, stands the Stephen Bailey 
place. This was built in 1734 by John Dennie, a rich Boston 
merchant who never occupied the house but leased it and the farm 
to someone else. It, too, has an early addition on the north side. 
This place has been very well kept, and must look much as it 
did 200 years ago. 

Some little distance farther, at 1376 North Colony Road, is an 
old house belonging now to Wallace Miramant, florist. One of the 
most interesting things about it is that it stands on the site of the 
old Belcher Tavern. Although this house is unquestionably old, it 
is not known exactly when it was built, nor by whom. However, 
its hand-hewn white oak beams proclaim its age. In A Century 
of Meriden, Mr. Curtis suggests, as the result of a conversation 
he had with the granddaughter of Sidney Merriam, who came 
into possession of the inn about 1812, that in 1833 the old build- 
ing was moved to the rear for a wood shed and carriage house, 

21 



OLD HOUSES 

and the present house was erected on the ancient site. How- 
ever, it appears to be older than this, and the contractor who 
supervised its remodeling in 1949, felt that it was one of the 
oldest houses in town. At one time it had eleven fireplaces. The 
present owner has carefully stowed away in his attic an old sign, 
found in the place, bearing the words "Hotel Belcher." 

On the other side of the road, at number 1563, is the Yale place, 
built in 1788 by John, a grandson of that John Yale who, in com- 
pany with Jedediah Norton, bought the Belcher, or Meriden, 
farm in 1741. This house has had some additions and has had its 
clapboards replaced with shingles, but its earlier lines are clearly 
discernible. It is owned and occupied by the Staszewski family. 

Also in the north part of town, at 1065 Broad Street, near 
Britannia, is the Asahel Curtis place. This house was built, prob- 
ably by Joel Yale, in 1807 but was sold to Isaac Lewis and Asahel 
Curtis a few years later. In a building adjoining, these two men 
manufactured metal buttons. After a time Mr. Curtis bought 
the house from his partner. Here his son, George R. Curtis, was 
born. For many years now the place has belonged to Frank N. 
Wilcox. It has apparently changed little since its early days, 
except to improve. 

The Andrews Homestead, on West Main Street, now the home 
of the Meriden Historical Society, was built by Moses Andrews 
probably about 1760. The double overhang of the second and 
third stories indicates that it may be even older. This house, 
like so many others, was enlarged at an early date. When the 
sloping roof was raised to accommodate the addition in the 
rear, the old end rafters were left and are still visible in the attic. 
The massive timbers, sturdy wall planking, and wide floor-boards 
are still in remarkablv fine condition. In one of the bedrooms 
an area of the wall has been cut away so that the glassed-off 
section shows the construction — the hand-hewn beams, hand- 
split laths, hand-wrought nails, and wooden pegs. The place is 
an excellent example of a large, comfortable, colonial farmhouse. 
It follows the usual plan of that day — the small entrance hall, 
where the delicately turned bannisters contrast strikingly with 
the rugged stones of the huge center chimney; to the right the 
dining room, to the left the withdrawing room, each with its 
fireplace; and in the rear the keeping room, with its enormous 
cooking fireplace, complete with Dutch ovens. It was in this 

22 



OLD HOUSES 

house that the first Episcopal church services in Meriden were 
held. 

In later years the place passed through a succession of hands, 
becoming, at one time, a two-family house. It was acquired by the 
Board of Education for the City of Meriden, and in 1933 and 
1934 was renovated as a federal project to serve as a kinder- 
garten for the Benjamin Franklin School, and a colonial museum 
for the city. In 1940 when the School Board relinquished con- 
trol of the property, two groups, the Andrews Homestead Com- 
mittee and the Meriden Historical Society, which had been 
defunct since 1895, united to save the old house. This was 
accomplished and the Homestead, repaired, redecorated, and 
furnished with antiques which had been given or loaned to the 
society, was the scene of an Open House, January 14, 1942. The 
following year, because of the war, the place was turned over 
to the city for a Child Care Center, and its furnishings were 
returned to their owners or safely stored for the duration. 

Then in 1952 the Meriden Historical Society was again re- 
vived and once more took over the Andrews Homestead. It has 
been beautifully redecorated and furnished, insofar as possible, 
with antiques of the period of 1760. In it, also, are housed col- 
lections of old books, papers, and souvenirs of Meriden's past. 
Certainly, Moses Andrews built well, and our town is fortunate 
to have such a fine old house for its historical museum. 

Meriden is likewise fortunate in possessing the Meriden His- 
torical Society in its reactivated form, destined to perpetuate 
and augment the house and contents of the Andrews Homestead. 
Originally the society was organized in 1893 after a year of 
planning for its proper functions. Papers were prepared for 
reading at subsequent meetings, many of which are preserved in 
a book housed at the Andrews Homestead and from which con- 
siderable information has been gleaned for this volume. Despite 
the obviously general interest in the organization's efforts to 
gather material on Meriden's past, there seems to have been 
no meeting after the one dated November 1, 1895. 

When the fate of the Andrews Homestead became a matter 
of public concern in 1940, the Meriden Historical Society was 
reorganized to include the already active Andrews Homestead 
Committee for the purpose of raising funds to maintain the 
property as a center of historic interest. For the two years before 

23 



OLD HOUSES 

the Andrews Homestead "went to war" the society more than 
fulfilled its mission. 

After 10 years of wear and tear in community service, the 
Homestead was in dire need of the attentions which only an 
active Historical Society could give it. The organization was 
again revived, its constitution brought up-to-date, and concen- 
trated work begun to make over this handsome relic of Meri- 
den's past. With financial aid from the Cuno Foundation, the 
work has been completed. It is unthinkable that the museum 
should ever again fall into other ways and other uses. The 
Meriden Historical Society has become a necessary and vital 
function in Meriden's affairs depended upon to carry on without 
interruption the preservation of Meriden's past as a symbol of 
all that makes Meriden happy and proud in celebrating in 1956 
its sesquicentennial year. 

Still farther west, on Johnson Avenue at the corner of Eaton, 
stands the old Johnson place, now owned and occupied by the 
Carter Whites. This house, with its lovely Palladian window 
and hand-pegged divided stairway, was built by Israel Johnson 
about 1785. In the early days West Main Street, as we know it, 
did not exist and Johnson Avenue was the through street to the 
west and later the stagecoach route to Waterbury. Originally 
this house faced south on Johnson Avenue, but at a later period 
was turned to face east on Eaton. The Johnson family owned 
the mountain land to the north — all the way up to West Peak. 
They had hoped to develop the property into a valuable mining 
tract but, unfortunately, their prospecting did not reveal the 
wealth of gold and copper they had expected to find. In spite 
of this disappointment, however, the family lived in rather an 
elegant manner, and rumor has it that it was considered quite 
an honor to be invited to their home. 

On Coe Avenue, within a short distance of each other, are 
two good examples of eighteenth century houses. One is the 
home of Victor Lucchini, Coe Farm, which has just been sold 
to the city as the site of the new west-side high school. This 
colonial house was here when the farm was sold by Samuel Rice 
to Asa Barnes in 1795. Calvin Coe bought it in 1820 and it has 
remained in the hands of his descendants until now. It is to be 
hoped that this lovely old home can be saved when the high 
school appears in the place where the house has stood for over 

24 



OLD HOUSES 

160 years. 

The second house is the Rice place, built in 1781, by Ezekiel 
Rice, Jr., a Revolutionary War soldier, on land given him by 
his father. Its style is somewhat different from most of the houses 
of this period, because instead of one large center chimney, it 
has two, one at each end, and has a hallway running through 
the center of the house. Until fairly recent years, this place 
was still owned and occupied by members of the Rice family. 

On Old Colony Road, at Archer's Corners, is the Deacon 
Robert Royce, or Rice, house. It was standing there in 1740 
when the highway running west from this spot on the old 
Country Road to Hanover, now South Meriden, was opened. 
In the latter part of the last century the place was sold to the 
wife of Dr. H. A. Archer — hence the name Archer's Corners. 
In 1906 this house had a porch on two sides. Now that has been 
removed and so today, in spite of some recent shingling, the 
house probably looks more as it did originally. 

Just north of this old Robert Rice farm, on the site of Walnut 
Grove Cemetery, was the farm bought by Dr. William Hough, 
Wallingford's second physician, in 1730. Sometime between then 
and 1740, when he moved to Cheshire, Dr. Hough built a house 
on this property. His son, William, continued to live and conduct 
a blacksmith shop here for many years. About 1930 Mr. Russell 
White bought this Hough home from the cemetery association, 
moved it piece by piece, and carefully reconstructed it in its 
present location at the corner of Broad Street and Gale Avenue. 
There it may be seen today, exactly as it stood for almost 200 
years in its first location — complete even to its oversized chim- 
ney and fireplaces. Looking at it, one would never guess that it 
had not been right there for all of its long existence. It is now 
the home of the Robert Bergers. 

A short distance up Broad Street, at 309, is the Benjamin Hart 
house, now owned by the John B. Kirbys. This was built in its 
present location just before 1800. The original house faced on 
Curtis Street and was built in 1729 by Captain John Webb. 
When Mr. Hart inherited the home he wanted it to front on 
the new turnpike, and so he tore it down and built the present 
house, using many of the beams and other material from the 
old house. 

Around the corner, at 54 Curtis Street, is the Benjamin Curtis 

25 



OLD HOUSES 

house, owned by John Molloy. The first Benjamin Curtis, in 
1729, acquired from his father, Nathaniel, a 200-acre farm front- 
ing on this old street and spreading out fanlike to the east. For 
many years the Curtis family continued to inhabit this section 
of town, which accounts for the frequency of the name here. 
This house was built probably about 1795, by the second Ben- 
jamin when his own homestead, a short distance south, became 
too small to hold all of his fourteen children. The house has 
outwardly changed very little with the years. 

Five houses beyond is the home of iMrs. Charles N. Flagg. 
This is also reputedly a Curtis house, but when it was built, and 
by which Curtis is not certain. The back ell part was evidently 
the original house and the main building was added in front, 
somewhat later. The inside was extensively remodeled when 
the Flaggs bought the place about thirty-five years ago, but the 
outside still preserves its original colonial lines. 

Directly across the street is an attractive white-washed brick, 
which is now the home of Airs. William H. Race. The long, 
narrow, rectangular building was built originally for a spoon 
factory, probably by Edwin E. Curtis whose home was at 112 
Curtis Street and is still standing. Later it was a dame school 
conducted by Miss Harriet Bradley. After awhile it fell on bad 
times and became a disreputable looking two-family tenement, 
referred to in the neighborhood as "the brick." About ten years 
ago the Races bought it and converted it into the serene and 
charming home it is today. 

One of the oldest houses in iMeriden is at 160 Curtis, the home 
of Mrs. Marion P. Heidel. It was built in 1730 by Lazarus Ives. 
In 1740 Daniel Bradley owned it and had his blacksmith shop 
here for a time. Then the house was sold to Daniel Hough, the 
father of Dr. Ensign Hough, who with his family lived in it for 
many years. After that it had a number of owners, and during 
the Victorian era was considerably changed. Some years ago the 
Heidels remodeled it and removed much of the ornateness, so 
today, although not quite in its original form, it still retains 
its early charm. 

Far down on Curtis Street, almost to the Wallingford line, 
stands a house which was built about 1778 or 1780 by Noah 
Yale for his son, Thomas. This house was originally on a lane 
which ran up to Yale Avenue, because this section of Curtis 

26 



OLD HOUSES 

Street was not opened until 1820. There is a story that in the 
early part of the last century this place was used as an inocu- 
lation hospital, on account of its remoteness, and because it was 
not on a highway. It can easily be located, since it is at present 
known as the Mother Goose Farm. 

Almost directly east of this house, on Yale Avenue, is one 
built by this same Noah Yale for himself in 1761. He was a 
grandson of the original Thomas Yale to whom a large farm in 
this section of Wallingford was granted sometime before 1702. 
Noah Yale's house was certainly a fine, dignified colonial farm- 
house, containing much good paneling and detail. Many meet- 
ings of the Congregational Society were held here before the 
Revolutionary War. This was also the home of the slave, Chatham 
Freeman, who earned his freedom by serving in the war in 
place of one of Mr. Yale's sons. Another story is told of this 
same slave. Mr. Yale had a female slave at his farm whom Free- 
man wanted to marry. His master said he would agree to the 
marriage if Freeman would work for him seven years. He did 
and then married the woman. Today, almost two hundred years 
later, this house is still owned and occupied by Noah Yale's 
descendant — his great, great, great grandson, David Yale. 

The Ephriam Berry house, now owned by Frederick M. 
Stevens, Jr., stands on the northeast corner of Parker Avenue 
and Ann Street. This house was almost certainly built in 1743. 
Its construction is excellent, there are fine details such as cup- 
boards and paneling, and it has been carefully preserved through 
the years. It is probably one of the finest examples of an early 
colonial home to be found in Meriden. 

There is, on the south side of Miller Avenue, a red house called 
the 1777 Rest Home, owned and managed by Mrs. Edward 
Punty. It is not certain who built it, but a story about it has 
been handed down from father to son in that section for years. 
According to this tale, the man could not decide just where he 
wanted his home built. One day he walked to the top of the 
hill on his property, and taking off his hat he flung it into the wind, 
which was blowing strongly from the west, and said, "Where 
the hat falls I will build my house." And so he did. This place was 
occupied in the last century by Richard Miller whose name re- 
mains in that of the street. 

On the northwest corner of Miller Avenue and Paddock, which 

27 



OLD HOUSES 

in the early days was called Misery Road, is the Silas Rice place. 
This house occupies the site of the dwelling of Captain Divan 
Berry, of Revolutionary fame, which was destroyed by fire in 
1796. On October third of that year, Deacon Silas Rice bought 
the half finished house which was being erected on the same 
spot. Even now, appearing much as it did when the Deacon com- 
pleted it, this house is occupied by Robert S. Rice, a direct descen- 
dant of the builder. 

Farther north, on the east side of Paddock Avenue, is the large 
farmhouse which was built by Isaac Hall, son of the doctor of 
the same name, about the year 1770. For a long time this was 
known as the Rollin S. Ives place. In recent years its walls have 
been shingled, which helps to conceal its ancient character. 

Still farther east, away over in what used to be called Dog's 
Misery, is the old Noah Pomeroy place. The first mention of 
this house in the records was in March 1751, when Israel Hall 
and his wife deeded it and sixty acres of land to Phineas Hall. 
It is the same place where Benjamin Hall was later supposed 
to have kept the tavern which gave the section the name Bangall. 
About 1816 or 1817 it was bought by Noah Pomeroy. At that 
time it stood' at the junction of Pomeroy and Murdock Avenues, 
but many years ago it was moved a few hundred feet to the 
east, and now it stands at 24 Ives Avenue. It was in this old house 
that the Universalists first assembled in 1821. Some thirty years 
later the First Universalist Society of Meriden was organized. 

Dr. Sherburne Campbell owns a home on East Main Street, 
near the corner of Maple Avenue. This was apparently one of 
several houses built by Samuel Baldwin. The date is given as 1772, 
although it probably was earlier. The Almon Hall family was 
the first to live here. Two of his children, Russell and Fanny, 
continued to occupy the place for many years, until they died 
at an advanced age. The story is told that Miss Fanny, in her last 
years, became confused and was inclined to wander about. In 
order to keep her safely in the house, it is said, she was chained 
to an iron ring fastened into the floor of her room. In recent 
years this house passed through a number of different hands. It 
has been carefully restored, added to, and today is a perfect 
example of how an eighteenth century home can be adapted to 
comfortable, modern living. 

Another house, no doubt of somewhat similar style when it 

28 



OLD HOUSES 

was built about 1795, is the Orchard Guy place on the corner 
of East Main and Williams Street. A short distance east of here 
is the Abel Yale place which is considerably older. The first 
mention of it on the records was in 1737 when his brother, 
Moses, quit-claimed to Abel all his interest in the house and farm. 
During the years a number of additions have been built, and its 
appearance has changed considerably. It is on the corner of East 
Main and Horton Avenue. 

Some other early homes which have lost much of their colonial 
appearance through alterations and additions are the Edward 
Collins house (1738) at 596 Colony Street; the Abel Rice or 
William W. Plumb place (1733 or before) at 175 Hall Avenue, 
near the junction of Gale; the Comfort Butler house (1770) at 
67 Kensington Avenue; and that of Levi Allen (before 1784) 
on Allen Avenue. 

One of Meriden's oldest houses has come to rather a pathetic 
end. It is now a three-family tenement, with a storeroom tacked 
on the front. This is the home built originally by Captain Na- 
thaniel Merriam, about 1730, on the present site of Saint Andrew's 
Church. In 1866 it was moved, around the corner, to Miller 
Street where it now stands, looking sad and forlorn, behind the 
Connecticut Electric Equipment Co. 

Probably no description of Meriden's old houses would be 
complete without mention of the stately Eli Birdsey mansion, 
even though it was built considerably later — not until 1830. 
It was the first imposing residence to be erected in town. It has 
now been made into apartments, but it is still dignified and beau- 
tiful today, in its commanding location at the head of East 
Main Street hill, almost across from the two colonial churches, 
and in Meriden's most historic section. 



29 



CHAPTER SIX 



Roads and Travel 



The first settlers in what is now iMeriden entered virtually virgin 
territory. This was not an area where Indians lived with any 
permanence. It was their hunting ground so there were some 
Indian trails winding in and out where moccasined feet had 
picked the way. Some of our streets today no doubt follow the 
general lines of such trails. Gradually those trails become trodden 
ways beaten down by men on horseback. Later they were widened 
into roads and new roads added as the settlement grew. 

In 1729, George W. Perkins tells us in his history, there were 
twenty-five families in Meriden. By 1770 the number had 
expanded to 123 families. Meanwhile some sort of rude roadway 
system was developing. One record shows that the General 
Assembly in Hartford in 1666 ordered Edward Higby thus: "for 
making and mainteineing the way over Pilgrums Harbour passable 
for man & horse, shall have his estate and farme free of Countrey 
(rates) for this yeare anp! next, he mainteining the way soe longe 
as aforesaid." 

As time went on a definite pattern emerged for reserving quite 
a wide strip of land for roads wherever new grants were made. 
For instance in 1707 the "towne chose Eliezer peeck, Joshua 
culver, David Hall, a commetie to see that dogs missery hiway 
may not be pinsht of the twenty rods in any place from the 
town to misserie whare it was not laid out before the graint was 
of said hiway." 

Twenty rods is often mentioned as road width. Still oftener 
the records speak of six rods for a highway. What the roads were 
like is another matter. Other records indicate that it was custom- 
ary for settlers adjacent to these "roads" to raise crops on 
this public property. Since the strips were cleared but not too 
well traveled, it was but a practical custom, quite "Yankee" in 
character. 

According to historian Perkins the first wagon was brought 
to Meriden in 1789. He says it was owned by Ezra Rice and was 
of rude construction, being simply a square framed box placed 

30 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

on four wheels, drawn by two horses, with ropes for traces, and 
cords for the guiding or driving lines. Yet, he says, " it was then 
thought to be a very elegant establishment." Previous to the 
coming of that wagon, there had never been owned in the town 
more than three two-wheel carriages. These he describes as being 
very rude, awkward chaise bodies or uncovered seats hung on 
two wheels. And he adds incidentally that he had it on what he 
considered good authority, that of a man whose business took 
him at various times into every house in the town (could he have 
been a tax collector?), that in 1802 there was but one carpet in 
the whole town of Meriden. As a further commentary on 
Meriden's standard of living when she became a separate town, 
the Century of Meriden carries the note that when Samuel Yale 
died in 1816, the inventory of his belongings contains the first 
notice we have of a stove in Meriden. The item appears on that 
document as "stove and pipe" valued at $10. 

Among papers written by Meridenites for the historical 
society in the eighteen-nineties, is one by Allan B. Squire on the 
railroad. In it he says the "first stage in Connecticut ran through 
Meriden in 1784 on this old country road west of the central 
village where the railroad is now located." He adds that until 
the time the railroad was completed over half a century later the 
"good people of Meriden had no other means of communication 
with Hartford and New Haven except by private conveyance." 
On that subject of private conveyance Welcome E. Benham says 
in his paper in 1894: "I well remember that 60 years ago it was 
quite common for persons to travel from town to town, several 
miles on foot. I and others sometimes walked to New Haven and 
back, 32 miles, and quite frequently to church on Sabbath to 
Cheshire Center, four miles from home. . . ." 

"Horse wagons were nearly all of the lumber box order, with 
wood axletrees. The back chair seat was often supported on a 
wooden spring; the forward seats were plain flat boards resting on 
the upright sides. It was considered a luxury to have cushions or 
blankets on them to alleviate the jolting over stone. When elliptic 
springs were first introduced, they were considered a marvel, and 
set the body of the wagon up so high that some feared danger 
of toppling over. . . ." 

He describes the stages as "uniformly built in egg or oval body 
form, capable of seating from six to ten inside, and with additional 

31 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

seats outside up back of the driver and on top." A large leather 
boot was built on behind to carry trunks and baggage, and also 
another in front to protect the driver. The whole was set on strong 
leather side straps called "thorough braces," suspended from 
elevated points front and rear, each resting firmly on the heavy 
four-wheeled running gear, and gave "an easy, rollicking motion 
to passengers when driven rapidly over rough places." The wide- 
awake drivers were "well skilled in handling their four lines and 
cracking their long lash stage whips over the backs of their 
forward span of galloping steeds. On approaching their stopping 
place they blew their shrill tin horn to notify hostlers to have 
fresh horses harnessed ready for exchange. There was one stage 
a day each way from New Haven and Hartford, a distance of 
thirty-six miles, running time four hours." 

When George W. Perkins describes travel in the earliest 
days, a century before the above, he says: "... you see a traveller 
starting from Hartford, on his way to New Haven. He is on 
horseback, with heavy saddle-bags depending from the saddle, 
and perhaps with pistols at his saddle-bow. After passing Wethers- 
field, he drives into the forest, where there is only a 'bridle path' 
cut through the trees. Slowly picking his way among stumps and 
swamps, with now and then some trepidation as an Indian crosses 
his path, he reaches toward nightfall the old stone house called 
Meriden, and is glad to find that its stout doors and shutters can 
resist all hostile attacks. The next morning, at early dawn, he 
commences another hard day's journey, and has hardly gone 
beyond the tavern door, when he spies a troop of gaunt wolves 
upon Mount Lamentation." 

One of the historical papers, written in 1893 by Albert H. 
Wilcox, adds this about the stone house: "As the journey between 
Hartford and New Haven formerly occupied 'two good days' 
the Belcher Tavern and another tavern in Wallingford became 
very notorious resorts especially during the French and Revolu- 
tionary wars. Afterwards a wooden addition was built which was 
kept as a tavern until the opening of the turnpike in 1799." He also 
speaks of Bartlett's "Hotel Belcher" being built in the 1820's near 
the old tavern and its adjoining forts. 

Perkins describes how the horseman, in prestagecoach days, 
was almost bemired in passing the swamp and unbridged stream 
at Pilgrim's Harbor. It was no wonder the regular horseback 

32 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

trail from Hartford swung by way of Wethersfield rather than 
along the shorter route later taken by the railroad. As A. B. Squire 
describes that route it is obvious how much swampy ground had 
to be reclaimed. He speaks of the railroad passing by "Old Fly" 
and "Beaver Pond" through meadows called "Green Swamp" 
into Kensington parish and thence to its termination on Main 
Street in Hartford. 

The first step in progress from Indian trail to airplane came 
with the advent of freight wagons and stagecoaches. The pack- 
horse business had been profitable since it was the only means by 
which to transmit mail and goods. So owners of the pack-horse 
business were opposed to the "new-fangled" freight system which 
called for the building of roads, just as later the stagecoach 
companies opposed the coming of railroads, and railroads in turn 
look askance at trucking on highways. 

New highways passable for stagecoaches cost considerable in 
money and effort. Neither state nor towns could keep them 
up although some stretches were entrusted to the good offices 
of settlers receiving land usage or other benefits in payment. So 
the stage lines obtained charters from the state allowing them 
to establish turnpikes, either by taking over and improving 
existing roads, or by building their own with necessary bridges. 

The first turnpike through Meriden was completed in 1799, a 
big event in our history. Its building was the opening of what 
is known as Broad Street. It necessitated the filling in of a deep 
ravine which people called Nabb's Folly since a man of that name 
had tried to build a road across it and failed. According to Mrs. 
William Mackensie in a paper prepared some 30 years ago for 
the D. A. R., it was "an uncommonly deep chasm, through which 
ran a rapid, narrow stream of water." In her younger school days 
she says it was known as the "Gulf." 

The turnpike builders filled in the ravine enough to allow a 
narrow road across it, although people had previously thought 
it could never be filled and made safe. That sort of hazard was 
many times multiplied before Connecticut villages were finally 
connected by their network of turnpikes, now replaced by one 
of the finest and most comprehensive road systems in the nation. 

The north-south turnpike was soon traversed by an east-west 
route to the further advantage of the old Central Tavern as a 
convenient stopping place. Returning to Mr. Benham's paper we 

33 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

find a description of the toll turnpikes where gates across the pike 
forced travelers to stop to pay their fee before they could 
continue. Generally the gates were of the high fence type that 
swung, some were pivoted on a pole, and others were raised by 
pulleys and weights from a high roof overhead. There were 
gatekeepers who took the toll to fill the coffers of the turnpike 
companies so they could maintain the system in at least passable 
condition. 

According to Mills in his Story of Connecticut the usual toll 
was from 25 cents for a four-wheeled pleasure carriage down to 
four cents for a rider on horseback. But people going to and 
from churches on Sunday were allowed to pass free, as were 
voters on their way to town meeting or farmers enroute to mills. 
Funerals were always free. Mr. Benham places one toll gate on 
the north-south turnpike on South Broad Street midway between 
Meriden and Yalesville and another north of the Berlin woods 
midway between Meriden center and Berlin. On the east-west 
turnpike he says one gate was about a "mile west at the old 
notch road corners just beyond the Parker foundry." 

The turnpike companies also erected milestones along these 
post roads. Some that once stood in the vicinity of Meriden are 
still preserved although not in their original locations. The 
Century of Silver recounts the recent story of two such markers. 
One was on Colony Street in front of the house occupied until 
her death by Miss Sally Collins, and since torn down to make 
way for new construction. Only a few feet south of the Post 
Office, this stone indicating 19 miles from New Haven was dear 
to "Miss Sally's" heart. To her horror one day she looked out 
just in time to see a steam shovel scoop the stone up in its gnawing 
way preparing for a new street surface job. 

Tearfully Miss Sally told the workmen of her shock. They were 
sympathetic and toted the chipped relic to land behind her house. 
Later she gave the stone to Roy C. Wilcox who subsequently 
located milestone 20 far out North Colony Street in front of what 
was Judge Dunn's house, the old Norton place. Mr. Wilcox, 
possessed of respect for Meriden's historical relics, has the two 
milestones flanking the doorway of his present residence on Allen 
Hill. 

Such stone markers have proved more durable than some of 
the many markings used in the early 1700's. Land records and 

34 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

those covering space reserved for roads commonly use such 
terminals as "a heap of stones in the corner of the fence west of 
the Path" and a "walnut bush marked with stones" or a "white 
oak tree" to the "large chestnut stump." 

A trail ran from New Haven to Hartford down in the bottom 
of the valley through swampy land for a century before the turn- 
pike was built. This was developed into a road sometime after the 
turnpike came into being, roughly along the line of the present 
Colony Street. The sandstone hill on which the center of old 
Meriden grew, and its connecting ridges made far better terrain 
for the first full-fledged highway. John Warner Barber notes in 
his Connecticut Historical Collections that a road was constructed 
in the northwestern part of Meriden to Berlin sometime in the 
second decade of the 1800's. He says it went through "a narrow 
and romantic glen, between two ridges of the Blue Mountains; 
this pass, which is more than a mile in extent, is called Cat Hole." 

In some parts of the glen, continues Mr. Barber, there was 
barely room for a path because angular fragments of rock 
protruded at a forty-five-degree angle. He says the rocks were 
beaten down and covered with earth brought in for the purpose 
in order to make what might be called a road. He also calls 
attention to the elevated perpendicular rock on one side of the 
road which once resembled the profile of a human face, some 
saying it looked just like George Washington. Today one's 
imagination has to be pretty good to see what may have been far 
more sharply defined 150 years ago. But the Washington legend 
lingers. 

Stagecoaches took four days to go from New York to Boston. 
The second day out of New York meant the passengers and 
drivers had their noon meal in Meriden. This is why the Central 
Tavern became in reality the heart of the town, shifting the 
center from its former location at the junction of Curtis and 
Ann Streets. A Hartford newspaper dated May 31, 1838, carries 
the story of the fastest trip ever made from New York to Hartford 
as eight hours and five minutes, actual time by steamboat and 
stage. And the time consumed by stage from New Haven to 
Hartford was four hours and ten minutes, including stops for 
changes of horses and rest periods for passengers. The coming 
of the railroad changed everything. For a century and a half 
before it, communication between Meriden and the outer world 

35 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

was a slow process. 

All travelers were of interest to Meriden townspeople. Some- 
times very important figures came this way. According to Mills 
in his Story of Connecticut, George Washington traveled from 
New Haven to Hartford on his way from Philadelphia to Cam- 
bridge in 1775, presumably on the route we call Colony Street. 
Again in 1789 he made a tour from New York and through New 
Haven and Hartford on his way to Springfield and Boston. One 
legend, entirely without authentication in any record, says that 
Washington stopped overnight on one of these tours in a house 
on North Colony Road that has long since disappeared from our 
landscape. 

Mr. Benham tells in the historical society collection of papers 
of the visit to Meriden of a later President. He writes: 

"I recall with interest the memorable occasion in about 1829 
when General Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, 
made his tour through New England, and in going from New 
Haven to Hartford by carriage he stopped off uptown and gave 
an open air public reception from the stone steps of the Center 
church. He was greeted by quite a concourse of people, intro- 
duced by General Walter Booth, and shook hands with a large 
number of prominent men, passing one by one in line. He had 
bright eyes, his gray hair stood up above his forehead, and as a 
venerable, brave looking man he appeared worthy of his high 
position. After this brief patriotic reception he and his honorable 
escorts, including Martin Van Buren, re-entered their carriages 
and proceeded to Hartford. Dr. Isaac I. Hough was then landlord 
of the old Center hotel where the New Haven and Waterbury 
stages always stopped." 

The stage drivers were colorful figures themselves. It took 
considerable skill to manage the job. In addition the personality 
of the driver had much to do with making stagecoach travel 
popular. All sorts of legends surround those figures of stagecoach 
days, so imposing in their great coats and tall beaver hats. Quite 
naturally the drivers were "treated" by passengers at their stops 
at way stations. The story is that sometimes the drivers were 
sharp businessmen who arranged with innkeepers to get a cut 
on profits. In a sort of version of the "wooden nutmeg" legend 
it is said that it was a common custom for the innkeeper to serve 
the driver colored water when giving his treater the usual rum 

36 



ROADS AND TRAVEL 

or whiskey. Thereafter he and the driver could split the profit 
made on the harmless substitute. 

One of the famous stagecoach drivers lived in Meriden, Silas 
Lawrence, whose home was on Broad Street. Since the Central 
Tavern was a logical place for changing horses, there was a large 
barn nearby for housing them. That building was still standing 
until the second decade of this century. It was used for many 
years before by John Holmes' tinsmith shop. 

The stagecoach business was but a part of the turnpike's 
importance. Much freight was carried over the road, particularly 
in the winter months when the Connecticut River was closed to 
navigation by ice. The freight teamsters customarily made the 
Central Tavern an overnight stop. Freight was carried usually in 
long heavy wagons with high board sides and arched canvas tops, 
drawn by from four to ten horses according to the weight of the 
load and the depth of the season's mud. These wagons gradually 
disappeared from this area as new transportation methods devel- 
oped. They went westward and were later known as "prairie 
schooners" when figuring in the vast settlement projects that 
opened our continent. When we remember that Fulton's steamer 
made its trial trip in 1807, we can realize how essential stagecoach 
and freight wagon were to the economy of this part of the 
country well into the third and fourth decades of the 1800's. 



37 



CHAPTER SEVEN 



Early Schools 



As early as 1650 the General Court of Connecticut established 
a code of laws which ordered that every township within its 
jurisdiction comprising as many as fifty householders, should 
appoint a schoolmaster to teach the children to read and write. 
Thus, the school and the church took root together, and sprang 
up almost with the first log cabins in the forest. Although a 
school of sorts had evidently existed previously, the first allusion 
to schools in the town records of Wallingford was in 1678. At 
that time they voted "to allow for the encouragement of such 
a school master as the select men shall approve of, ten pounds 
a year in general, and three pence a week for all scholars, from 
six to sixteen, as long as they shall go to school." Apparently, a 
room was hired for this purpose, because it was not until 1702 
that the town voted to build a schoolhouse. By 1722 it became 
necessary to have several schools, and so appeared the beginning 
of school districts. 

In the earliest days there was no mention of any subject but 
reading, writing, and spelling. It is quite probable that for a long 
time nothing else was taught except occasionally the rudiments 
of arithmetic. The books used in the schools were limited, both 
in number and scope. The New England Primer, the Psalter, 
Dilworth's Spelling Book, and Dilworth's Schoolmaster's Assist- 
ant for arithmetic were the only ones in use. The teaching of 
manners and respect for elders, particularly the dignitaries, was 
greatly stressed. And once a month the minister catechised the 
children in the meeting house, accompanying that catechism 
with many a stern reproof. 

The first schoolhouse in Meriden was a little low, red hut with 
four small windows, which stood at first near Ann Street, but 
was later moved to the slope between Gale Avenue and Holt 
Hill bridge. Another one, just as red and just as small, was built 
a few years after on the "old road," now Colony Street. Each 
one had a fireplace "for the alternate freezing and roasting process 
which the scholars underwent during the cold weather." Here 

38 



EARLY SCHOOLS 

the children learned the alphabet and were taught to call "Z" 
"izzard." The Primer for the younger pupils, and the New 
Testament for the older were the school reading books in the 
seventeen seventies. The first edition of this primer was strictly 
religious in its axioms. Thus: "In Adam's fall we sinned all." The 
woodcut was of an apple tree, beneath which were two figures 
having a remote likeness to humanity, one of them offering the 
other a big apple. 

Even as early as 1773 the town records show that Meriden 
was separated into school districts, because the taxes for school 
purposes were then divided proportionately between the districts. 
And by 1820 several schoolhouses had been built. In the western 
part of town there was a particularly substantial one, known 
as the Stone Schoolhouse. The uptown section had grown so 
populous by 1832 that there was difficulty in deciding the loca- 
tion of the Center School, and the question was settled by divid- 
ing the area into the north and south centers. The south center 
acquired for its school a small workshop at the northwest corner 
of the Broad Street Cemetery, on a lane which is now Charles 
Street. The North Center School was at a junction of Broad 
and Wall Streets. In 1835 a district was set off at the Corner, and 
a school was opened in a tiny building which stood just where 
the Main Street railroad crossing now is. This school was moved 
a few years later into the Lyceum building which was built 
on what is now Church Street. 

Our frequently quoted Mrs. Breckenridge attended the North 
Center School during the winter of 1834. Here is her descrip- 
tion of it: "The dimensions were probably twenty by twenty- 
five feet. A large butternut tree grew at the northwest corner 
of the building. Beneath this tree was the wood pile of logs to 
be cut for fuel as wanted. This was by no means as often as 
needed for warmth and comfort. Before the two doors, which 
gave entrance to the house, lay flat stones, which served as door 
steps. The doors gave access to two lobbies, where four or five 
children could stand at once if they stood close. In the lobbies 
or entries, as we called them, were kept the outer garments, the 
dinner pails and other possessions of the scholars. In the middle of 
the room a raised hearth or platform, about three feet square, 
made of brick and the thickness of a brick in height, supported 
a box stove. The room had four windows, two on a side. Around 

39 



EARLY SCHOOLS 

the room on three sides was a sloping counter which served as 
a desk, on which were kept, in more or less orderly fashion, the 
books and slates of the larger scholars. In front of this counter, 
on three sides, was a bench made of slabs, the flat side being 
uppermost. In front of these were low seats, with an apology 
for a back. On these the younger scholars and the very little 
ones were seated. The windows were shadeless; neither blind 
nor curtain tempered the glare. They were never washed, unless 
in summer some young woman teacher . . . essayed, with the 
help of the girls, a little housekeeping on her own account. The 
room was swept once a week by the girls in turn. 

"Oftener than not three dollars a week for a man teacher and 
one dollar and a half for a woman, for six days' teaching, was 
thought 'pretty easy.' An acceptable candidate for the winter 
school must be able to teach reading, writing (for this he must 'set 
copies') and Daboll's arithmetic, so far as or including the rule of 
three; to make a quill pen, and to 'govern' the large boys. 

"At nine in the morning those who loitered outside were 
called in by a vigorous thumping on the window sash with a 
ruler or ferule. This instrument was utilized as a timekeeper, 
to line copy books, and as a means of castigation whenever 
energetic disciplinary measures were in order. The pupils rushed 
in with all the racket and clatter that vigorous youth, shod in 
heavy cowhide boots and shoes, are capable of creating. The 
boys who entered later perpetrated a curious side-long jerk of 
the head, and the girls a perpendicular dip of the person, both 
contortions being supposed to indicate 'manners.' When fairly 
seated, Testaments were produced and school opened by the 
first and second classes reading two verses as it came the turn 
of each scholar. 

"The reading over, all the large scholars turned their faces to 
the wall and addressed themselves to Daboll's arithmetic, Wood- 
bridge's geography or their home-made writing books. Of course, 
the boys could turn on the long benches easily, but the girls 
had to take pains to perform the gymnastic feat properly. It 
was done by stooping and placing the hands on each side of the 
skirts, then by a quick, circular movement throwing the feet 
over the bench. This was usually done simultaneously. When 
called upon for anything by the teacher the whole class whirled 
back again. 

40 



EARLY SCHOOLS 

"Webster's New Speller was the class book for spelling in the 
school. The third class' having had their spelling lesson in words 
of two syllables set for them to study, the little ones were called 
up one by one to be ,taught their 'A, B, C's' .... It would now 
be time for the second class to read and spell. A whirl of feet 
and petticbats landed two rows of boys and girls standing on 
the floor facing the teacher, who gave the order, 'Manners!' 
and the jerking of necks and bobbing of skirts gave evidence that 
school etiquette was understood. The spelling came first, after- 
ward the reading from the same page, such things as: 
'We burn oil in tin and glass lamps.' 
'We can burn fish oil in lamps.' 

A geography lesson, if anybody had one, mending pens, attend- 
ing to sums and a playtime for the boys and one for the girls 
brought the morning session to a close. 

"The afternoon began by reading in the Columbian Orator. 
The National Preceptor came into use a few years later. To some 
of the scholars this was the best part of the day. More Daboll, 
a geography lesson, and more alphabet for the little ones. Poor 
little things! They sat patiently three hours on the hard benches, 
with nothing to do and nothing to look at. The one virtue re- 
quired of them was to keep still. More spelling by the first and 
second classes, and at one o'clock the school day's work was 
done. 'Manners' were required from each scholar on leaving 
the room, and the genuflection was aimed at the wall, the benches, 
the door or the teacher as it happened." 

During this same period Meriden could boast of several private 
schools. The first one in town was taught by an Episcopal clergy- 
man, the Reverend Mr. Keeler. In 1834 Miss Julianne Eddy opened 
a private school in the basement of the Center Congregational 
Church. At that time it was only one large, cold, gloomy room, 
filled with benches. The next year the school was moved into 
the basement of the old Baptist Church on the northeast corner 
of the cemetery, because the room here was lighter and warmer. 
Some years later, after Miss Eddy's marriage, Miss Henrietta 
Malone started a private school in Captain Collins' old house on 
East Main Street near the corner of Parker Avenue. And in 1840 
John D. Post established the "Academy," a boarding school in 
a small way, on East Main at Elm. For a time this school had a 
fair patronage from other towns, although there were well- 

41 



EARLY SCHOOLS 



established boarding schools for young ladies in Hartford and 
New Haven, and Cheshire Academy enjoyed considerable 
prestige. 



42 



CHAPTER EIGHT 



Meriden in the Wars 

The terrible Pequot War was over before any settlement of 
white men took place in the Meriden area. By the time King 
Phillip's War was under way, Meriden was still a part of Walling- 
ford. The entire community set up regular guard service with a 
tight schedule for sentinels on duty throughout the dangerous 
period. There was an elaborate system for alarms, not like our 
present plans to warn of an atomic attack, but at least equally 
adequate for the times. 

. As has been said, the Indians in this neighborhood were friendly 
to the white man and as afraid of warring tribes as any settler 
worried for the fate of his family and property. But there was 
no telling when enemy propaganda might win over a neighbor 
Indian here and there. Those Indians knew the white man's 
property as well as the settler did himself. They had the run of 
the farms and were potentially too dangerous, in the event they 
should become renegades, for the peace of the white settler's 
mind. 

In the Joseph Wadsworth papers discovered around 1900 in 
an old pine box in the attic of the Wadsworth home in Hartford, 
that man credited with hiding the Charter in Hartford's famous 
oak tree says of King Philip's War that "fortunately Connecticut 
was not called upon to make any sacrifices in this troublous time, 
as aside from the burning of Simsbury there was no property lost 
in the colony and I always believed that it would not have 
happened if the people had remained in their homes instead of 
rushing off. . . ." 

However, many Connecticut men did "rush off." Of the 300 
Connecticut Englishmen in the army of 1,000 raised for the 
Narragansett campaign, there were a few from this section. Some 
served in the disastrous Swamp Fort fight in Rhode Island. Some 
years later land was given to the veterans in recognition of military 
service. One of these was Samuel Hough, father of James who 
built the Meriden mill later known as Baldwin's in the north- 
eastern Section. His land in lieu of a pension or the more modern 

43 



MERIDEN IN THE WARS 

"GI benefits" was in the Norwich section of Connecticut where 
he lived at the time of his enlistment. 

Only one Meriden man is listed as being in the Louisburg 
expedition in 1745. He is Samuel Royce, son of Captain Ezekial 
who is recorded as having made a death claim after his son died 
in New London upon his return from Cape Breton. Quite a few 
Meriden-Wallingford names are on the rolls of the French and 
Indian Wars as participating in the Fort Ticonderoga campaign, 
— names familiar in our history such as Daniel Hough, Benjamin 
Curtis, Abraham Hall, Moses Curtis, Isaac Cook, Jr., and Benj. 
Rexford. 

Before recounting Meriden's part in the Revolution, the small 
part played in the War of 1812 by local people can be quickly 
told. This was not at all a popular cause in any part of New 
England. Trade was too important to the inhabitants tasting the 
early success of their manufacturing and merchandising talents. 
The embargo on the port of Boston was a serious setback. Never- 
theless a number of Meriden men enlisted for military service 
although there is no indication that they were ever actively 
engaged against the enemy. Their duty was apparently guard 
work in New Haven or New London, and even that was of short 
duration. 

The colonists' ties with England, which had been stretched 
taut for some years, reached the breaking point in 1775. The news 
of Paul Revere's ride, the night of April 18, and of the following 
day's fighting at Lexington and Concord spread like wildfire 
throughout the colonies. Patriots hesitated no longer and eager 
men hurried towards Boston. One company of 38 men, under 
Captain John Couch, went from Meriden. These men were out 
only seven days, hardly time to go to Boston and return. They 
doubtless received notice while on the march that their services 
were not needed. One Samuel Kilbourn rendered an account "for 
ferrying across Connecticut River at Hartford in the Lexington 
alarm Capt. Couch, of Meriden, with 18 men, 4 hourses and 1 
waggon. Also Capt. Cook of Wallingford." 

Captain John Couch, probably Meriden's outstanding Revolu- 
tionary War hero, had come here in 1746 and bought a farm 
from Aaron Lyman. He was, therefore, not a young man at the 
outbreak of hostilities. He built his house on what is now the 
junction of Wall and North Wall Streets. The Ransom Baldwin 

44 



MERIDEN IN THE WARS 

place (1828) was once part of Captain Couch's farm. 

Shortly after the Lexington alarm the Legislature issued the 
first call for troops. The regiment was recruited in New Haven 
county, and about September 28, 1775, it marched to the Northern 
Department and took part in operations along Lakes George and 
Champlain. In this campaign Captain Isaac Cook, of Wallingford, 
commanded a company in which there were about ten Meriden 
men, including Lieut. John Hough and Sergt. Samuel Hall. 

In the expedition to Lakes George and Champlain, referred to 
above, many of the soldiers were taken sick and the following 
bills were paid by the state for medical attendance to Meriden 
men. Dr. Insign Hough presented a bill for going after Benjamin 
Austin to Stillwater, N. Y., on October 30, 1775: 

To Horse hire 130 miles at 2d per mile £1-1-8 

To my time 8 days at 3/8 per Day £1-4-0 

To cash paid expenses on said Journey 18-5 

Simeon Perkins presented a bill for bringing home his appren- 
tice, Jared Benham, from beyond Albany. 

Lieut. Joseph Shailer was taken sick at Putney, Vermont, after 
the campaign and "was tended 16 days" at an expense of £1-10-0 
and then was obliged to hire a man and a horse to bring him 
home, a distance of 190 miles, at an expense of £6-16-18. 

John Austin, of Wallingford, presented a bill for going for 
his sick son, Amos, six miles this side of Albany. 

A soldier on his way home from the campaign was taken sick 
at Edward Collins' home, on North Colony Street, in Meriden, 
and could go no farther, so there he remained helpless for six 
weeks, with Dr. Insign Hough and Dr. Isaac Hall attending him, 
and Mr. Collins furnishing nurses and watchers. The quantity of 
rum and brandy administered to this sick man was prodigious 
during the two weeks when he was "worst." He finally recovered 
and went on his way, but his name is not given in the bill. 

In the siege of Boston, which took place after the Battle of 
Bunker Hill, the only official record of service from Meriden is 
that of Captain John Couch. He was in Colonel Wadsworth's 
regiment which reached there towards the end of January, 1776. 
Probably there were with him several more Meriden men he had 
commanded during the Lexington alarm, but the names of only 
two have come down to us — Ezekiel Rice and Samuel Scovil. 
Letters from Ezekiel Rice, Joseph Rice and Joseph Shailer (or 

45 



MERIDEN IN THE WARS 

Shaylor), written while they were soldiers in the Revolution, are 
quoted in Curtis's A Century of Meriden. 

This Joseph Shailer served continuously in the army from the 
beginning to the end of the war and attained the rank of first 
lieutenant. He was in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, 
and took part in the storming and capturing of Stony Point under 
"Mad" Anthony Wayne, on July 15, 1779. His home was on 
Gravel Street, a little south of Baldwin Avenue. He later moved 
to Ohio. 

After the British evacuated Boston, General Washington and 
his army set out for New York. Captain Couch was at that time 
in Col. Bradley's battalion in General Wadsworth's brigade which 
"was stationed the greater part of the summer and early fall of 
1776 at Bergen Heights and Paulus Hook (now Jersey City). In 
October it moved up the river to the vicinity of Fort Lee, then 
under General Greene's command. In November most of the 
regiment was sent across the river to assist in defending Fort 
Washington, which on the fall of the fort November 16, was 
captured with the entire garrison." Captain Couch was taken 
prisoner, together with the following Meriden men in his com- 
pany: Gideon Ives, John Pierce, Samuel Rice, Jonathan Hall, 
Benjamin Austin, Gideon Rice, Stephen Atwater, Moses Hall, 
and possibly Nathaniel Yale. 

Captain John Couch was in a British prison on Long Island for 
some time after this capture. In the State Library at Hartford, in 
Revolutionary War Documents, Vol. XII, are preserved various 
receipts for money conveyed by the state to men in prison on 
Long Island, 1777. John Couch's name is among the number of 
those signing. He evidently gained his freedom during the year, 
for he appears as captain of a company in a militia regiment 
ordered to Peekskill in 1777. 

Isaac Hall Jr., son of Dr. Isaac Hall, was apparently captain of 
a company of militia which was, in 1776, attached to a regiment 
of Light Horse. In 1777 he was in service in New York and 
"parts adjacent," and in 1779 it is recorded that some men were 
detached from "Capt. Isaac Hall's company to go to Greenwich." 
His name also appears on the roll of those doing service in the 
British invasion of New Haven in 1779. 

Divan Berry was second lieutenant of a company in Wads- 
worth's brigade, and was at Fort Washington, but it does not 

46 



MERIDEN IN THE WARS 

appear that he was captured. Later that same year he was at 
Ticonderoga under General Gates. In 1779 he was a captain on 
coast guard duty near Greenwich, during the time of the British 
expedition up the Sound under General Tryon. In 1780 he was a 
captain in the 17th regiment. 

John Hough, mentioned before as a lieutenant in Captain Cook's 
company in 1775, did service in this state during the years 1776 
and 1777. In 1779 he was captain of a company which served 
in the Tryon invasion, and in 1780 he was a captain in the Seventh 
militia regiment. In the month of October, 1777, Lieut. Colonel 
Baldwin's regiment of militia was ordered to the Hudson at 
Fishkill to aid the Continental army. They were out perhaps 30 
days, and probably saw no active service. In this regiment, 
besides this same Lieut. John Hough, were Captain Bezaleel Ives 
and Captain Dan Collins. 

Two Meriden slaves served in the Revolution. One was 
Chatham Freeman, who undoubtedly assumed this surname when 
he became free. He was the slave of Noah Yale, and the story 
is that he was offered his freedom if he would go to war in place 
of one of Mr. Yale's sons. Chatham served the enlistment, returned 
home and was freed. The second slave was Black Boss who 
belonged to Abel Curtis. On a report of the town of Wallingford 
1779 in the State Library, appears the name of Boston negro, 
next to the name of Chatham negro. 

As the first enthusiasm of the war wore away it was found 
necessary to make an inducement for men to join the army. 
Accordingly, on March 31, 1777, it was "voted, that the town 
will give a Bounty to those that engage in the Continental service. 
Voted that each soldier that engages in the Continental service 
for the quota of Wallingford shall be paid by the town the sum 
of five pounds lawful money by the year for three years unless 
sooner Discharged: to be paid by the beginning of each year." 

This payment of bounty was carefully recorded, and in April, 
1779, the town reported to the State War Department a list of 
all those to whom bounties had been paid. A second report was 
made in December, 1779 and at various times lists were furnished 
of those soldiers whose families were assisted by the town during 
their absence in the field. 

Several references have been made to the British expedition up 
the Sound, under General Tryon. This is probably as close as the 

47 



MERIDEN IN THE WARS 

war came to iMeriden, since New Haven is nearer than Danbury. 
The enemy came to anchor in New Haven harbor about midnight 
on Sunday, July 4, 1779. No doubt beacon fires and scurrying 
horsemen soon carried the news through the surrounding country, 
and probably by daybreak of the fifth, the various militia com- 
panies in this and adjoining parts of the state were on the march 
to New Haven. 

The British troops, about 3,000 strong, were landed at daybreak 
on the east and west shores, and New Haven was soon in posses- 
sion of the enemy. Several buildings were fired, a number of 
people were killed, and numerous outrages were committed. On 
the East Haven side there were many encounters with the local 
militia and sharp fighting a good part of the day. The swiftly 
gathering companies from up the state soon convinced the British 
that their position was untenable and on the evening of the sixth 
they embarked and set sail for New York, stopping on the way 
at Fairfield and Norwalk, where they committed greater devasta- 
tion and havoc than at New Haven. 

Two companies of militia from Meriden marched to New 
Haven, probably starting on the morning of July 5th. One was 
under the command of Captain Dan Collins and the other under 
Captain John Hough. 

No doubt other Meriden men saw service in the Continental 
army, but their names in the official records can not be positively 
identified as belonging to men from this vicinity. The lack of a 
middle name, an almost universal custom at the time, and the 
failure to give in the records the addresses of the great majority 
of the soldiers, makes it generally unwise to assume an address. 

Today in the Curtis Memorial Library hangs a large bronze 
plaque containing the following inscription and names: 



48 



meriden in the wars 

In Memory of the Soldiers of the 
American Revolution 1775-1783 

— Parish of Meriden — 

Erected by the Susan Carrington Clarke Chapter 
Daughters of the American Revolution 



Capt. John Couch 
Capt. Divan Berry 
Capt. Israel Johnson 
Capt. Isaac Hall 
Lieut. Joseph Shailer 
Sergt. Samuel Hall 
Sergt. Ezekiel Rich 
Stephen Atwater 
Abner Andrews 
Isaac Atwater 
Benjamin Austin 
Jared Benham 
Samuel Collins 
Ebenezer Cowles 
Joel Cowles 
Joel Hall 
Rufus Hall 



Capt. Dan Collins 
Lieut. James Hough 
Ens. Brenton Hall 
Sergt. Amos Ives 
Corp. Daniel Janes 
Corp. Ezra Rice 
Sanborn Ford 
Yale Bishop 
John Barnes 
John Couch 
James Cabon 
Abel Curtis 
Timothy Foster 
Daniel Hall 
Moses Hall, Jr. 
Bezaliel Ives 
Timothy Ives 
Samuel Johnson 
Benjamin Merriam 
John Ives 
John Miles 



June 1906 

Nathaniel Douglas 
Chatham Freeman 
Phineas Hough 
Moses Hall 
Jonathan Hall 
David Hall 
Isaac Hall, Jr. 
Benjamin Hart 
Gideon Ives 
Isaac Livingston 
Phineas Lyman 
Asaph Merriam 
Ephriam Merriam 
Boston Negro 
John Pierce 
Israel Hall 



Isaac Rice 
Gideon Rice 
Wait Rice 
Justus Rice 
Jotham Rice 
Solomon Rice 
Joseph Rice 
Levi Robinson 
Benjamin Rexford, Sr. 
Benjamin Rexford, Jr. 
Thomas Spencer 
Nash Yale 
Nathaniel Yale 
Waitstill Yale 
Nathaniel Yale 
Jotham Hall 



Militia 

Jesse Merriam 
William Merriam 
Joseph Merriam 
Titus Merriam 
Caleb Merriam 
Stephen Perkins 
Elisha Scovil 
Capt. John Hough 
Lieut. Nathaniel Merriam 
Ens. Thomas Foster 
Sergt. Joseph Edwards 
Sergt. Jonathan Yale 
Sergt. Comfort Butler 
Sergt. Giles Griswold 
Willys Bishop 
Asa Brown 
Edward Collins 
Elisha Curtis 
Giles Foster 
Ozias Foster 
Jeremiah Farrington 



Phineas Hall 
Enos Hall 
Marshall Merriam 
Amasa Merriam 
Samuel Merriam 
Elisha Merriam 
Caleb Merriam 
Daniel Mekye 
Wyllys Mekye 
John Morgan 
Simeon Perkins 
John Robinson 
Samuel Rice 
Elijah Scovil 
David Scovil 
Moses Way 
John Yale 
Abner Way 
Amerton Yale 
Jesse Merriam 
Daniel Yale 



Many of these Revolutionary soldiers are buried in the old 
cemetery on Broad Street. Here in 1931, a boulder with a bronze 
tablet listing their names, was erected by the Captain John Couch 
Branch, Sons of the American Revolution. 



49 



CHAPTER NINE 



Old Customs, Old Ways and Progress 

Perhaps it would be interesting to consider what life was like 
in these old homes a hundred and fifty or two hundred years 
ago. Since Meriden was an isolated farming community — a 
suburb, really, of Wallingford — most of the homes were of the 
simple farmhouse type. Inside, as we have seen, there were often 
pleasing details, such as good paneling and attractive bannisters 
and cupboards. But the clapboards were nailed directly to the 
studding and, in the early houses, boards were used instead of 
plaster on the inside of the outside walls. In winter how the wind 
and cold must have whistled through the cracks! Blazing fires 
were kept burning in great fireplaces, but rooms were still 
draughty and cold. The bedrooms must have been almost unbear- 
able. No wonder warming pans and feather beds were considered 
necessities. 

Merely keeping alive was, in many respects, quite a difficult 
matter. Besides the hazards of Indians and wild animals, there was 
a great lack of medical knowledge, and physicians of any kind 
were few. The mortality rate was much higher then than now, 
particularly among young mothers. In reading over old records, 
it is very noticeable that many men had two, three, and sometimes 
even four wives. 

A woman was almost an economic necessity for a man, in 
those days, when she was not only his companion and the mother 
of his children, but when it was she, alone and unaided by any 
outside help or any mechanical gadgets, who kept his house 
clean, prepared every morsel of food he ate, and made every 
stitch he wore. Nearly every household had its great wheel for 
spinning wool and its small, or flax, wheel for making linen 
thread; plus a loom for weaving this thread into sheets, table 
linen, and cloth for underwear for the entire family. The wool, 
also, had to be woven into material, out of which the wife made 
suits for her husband and clothes for herself and the children. 

There were, in addition, socks to be knit from the carded wool. 
Until about 1810 nearly all materials for common wear were 

50 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

homemade. Besides all this, the housewife had to make her own 
pillows, feather beds, soap, and candles. Candle making was a 
serious affair. At first they were made by "dipping," then tin 
moulds came into use and a number of candles could be poured 
at one time. Even so, candles were used with the greatest 
economy. In the realm of food, the lady of the house, of course, 
churned butter, made cheese, baked bread, dried and salted food 
for the winter, and helped with the butchering, the chickens, and 
the vegetable garden. The old adage, "Women's work is never 
done," was certainly true then. 

The settlers in this area must have found an abundance of game, 
but as early as 1760 there was a colonial law forbidding the killing 
of deer from the first of January to the first of August. The 
penalty was four pounds for every offense. Several times, in old 
inventories, wild pigeon nets were mentioned. This indicates that 
people took advantage of the great annual flights of these birds, 
no doubt for food and to use the feathers for beds and pillows. 

Every family lived on the produce of its farm or by the 
proceeds of some useful trade, which was secondary to the work 
of tilling the soil. Among the various families there was little 
difference in the value of their possessions. There was no great 
wealth anywhere. Mr. Perkins speaks of the almost complete lack 
of money or circulating medium. In 1706 the entire circulating 
cash in gold and silver in the colony was only about 2,000 pounds. 
And, of course, there were no banks in existence. Bartering 
produce was the accepted method of doing business. 

Life was hard, in those early days, and pleasures were few. 
Even though the all-day church attendance seems severe to us, 
it provided a welcome change from the drudgery and monotony 
of the rest of the week. And the "nooning," particularly in 
summer, when it took on the air of a solemn and sedate picnic, 
gave the women almost their only opportunity to get together. 

In fact, the church, with its attendant ceremonies, provided 
most of the social life known at that time. There were the dinners 
and balls at the ordination of the minister, and the feasts, as at 
Thanksgiving (Christmas then did not count at all) and at 
weddings and funerals. At this time relatives and friends came 
from afar, and were expected to stay and partake of the funeral 
baked meats which custom required must be lavishly provided. 

Outside of this feasting, the funerals were dreary, indeed. The 

51 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

coffins, outlining as nearly as possible the shape of the body, 
were made by the nearest carpenter. Sometimes they were 
clumsily lined, but usually not; occasionally they were stained or 
painted a crude blue color, but most often the wood was left 
untouched. The term "bearers" was a literal one, because the 
coffin, with its burden was carried on men's shoulders the entire 
way to the roughly dug grave. Not a flower was ever used; it 
would have seemed indecorous to try to lighten the gloom of 
death. 

A quaint custom which has been lost with the years is described 
by Mrs. Breckenridge: "The very greatest and most important of 
all social functions was the ordination dinner and the ordination 
ball that followed. Both for the dinner and ball a liberal supply 
of liquors was supposed needful and proper. The last ordination 
ball given in Meriden was in 1803 when the Rev. Erastus Ripley 
was ordained. This ball was given in the old tavern ball-room. 
The last real ordination dinner was given when the Rev. Charles 
Hinsdale was installed in 1823. This dinner was at his own house 
situated on Broad Street. At this feast onions held an honorable 
and conspicuous place, and liquors were so copiously provided 
that it was whispered a prominent member of society became 
quite incoherent in conversation. . . . Ordination balls were very 
serious and stately divertisements, and very rigid and formal 
etiquette was observed; also, critical attention was given to the 
dancing steps." 

Naturally, these grand affairs did not happen often, and there 
was very little entertainment, as we think of it, in the lives of 
early Meridenites. There was scarcely even any reading material 
available to them. The Bible, of course, was read and reread, 
partly perhaps because of the scarcity of other books. The few 
printing presses in the colony printed sermons of eminent 
preachers. These were widely circulated and read. One of these 
was a sermon of the Rev. Theophilus Hall, delivered on August 
10, 1760, entitled, "A Saving Faith Scripturally Explained." The 
annual almanac was a popular publication, since it provided 
reading for the entire family and served, besides, as a farmer's 
log book and weather predictor. 

There were few children's books, other than the New England 
Primer. But by 1796 Meriden had a small subscription library 
of 153 volumes, mostly relating to divinity and theology. It is 

52 




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Andrews Homestead, 424 West Main Street 
Built circa 1760 




Interior Andrews Homestead 
Meriden Historical Society hostesses in 18th century costumes 




Meriden Center about 1834 

looking north from junction of Curtis and Broad Streets 

(From Barber's Historical Collections of Connecticut) 




Curtis Street elms, as they were 




1711 Club Inn 
677 North Colony Street, built 1711 




Residence Dr. Sherburne Campbell 
1074 East Main Street, built before 1772 




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aftertfie original by Perkins , l.it hog ro.pky . 128 Fulton St. N.M. 

Original plan of the Town of Wallingford 




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Map prepared by Joseph P. Beach of Cheshire 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

likely that this collection was housed in the basement of the old 
meeting house where the Center Church now stands. In the early 
part of the nineteenth century the only private libraries of any 
size were owned by Dr. Isaac Hough and Mr. Fenner Bush. 
Among the doctor's collection were the works of such English 
authors as Smollet, Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, Dean Swift and 
Fanny Burney. The American Lady's Preceptor, published in 
Baltimore in 1821, was another favorite of the doctor's niece, 
Mrs. Breckenridge, who says that he and Mr. Bush bought all 
the new books as they came out. 

In that far-ofl day, people in this little parish had no idea what 
was happening in the outside world until long after it had 
occurred. There was no newspaper, letters were extremely rare, 
and news was brought only by travelers going through, perhaps 
from Hartford or Boston to New Haven or even to Wallingford 
for, in the early days, it was considered one of the large towns 
in the colony. 

That our town was not a place given to luxury may be assumed 
from descriptions of living conditions in Perkins' Historical 
Sketches. Mr. Perkins stated that in 1802 there was but one 
carpet in all of Meriden. According to Mrs. Breckenridge, 
carpeted parlors were common by 1836, but she questioned if 
there were a dozen homes in town at that time where carpets 
were in use in the living room. 

We have come to think of these early settlers as exceedingly 
strict and righteous, but apparently they, too, had their small 
vices. In 1647 the colony ordered that no person under twenty 
years of age should use any tobacco without a certificate from a 
physician; and no others although addicted to its use, unless they 
were ten miles from any house, and then not more than once a 
day. Cider was the common beverage of the country, although 
some beer was drunk. Among some old records this strange entry 
was found, "It is ordered that there shall be one good hogshead 
of beer for the captain and minister." 

In early times rum was largely consumed. A half pint was 
given, as a matter of course, to every day laborer, especially in 
summer. In all families, rich or poor, it was offered to male visitors 
as a sign of hospitality, or just plain good manners. Women had 
their nip in the form of "Hopkins Elixir," which, at the same 
time, probably promised to cure everything. Crying babies were 

53 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

silenced with hot toddy because it was supposed to be good for 
colic. Every man imbibed his morning dram, and this was 
considered temperance. There is a story of a preacher who thus 
lectured his parish, "I say nothing, my beloved brethren, against 
taking a little bitters before breakfast, especially if you are used 
to it. What I contend against is this dramming, dramming, 
dramming at all hours of the day." Tavern haunting, especially 
in winter when there was little to do, was common, even among 
respectable farmers. A story is told of one man who frequently 
went to the old Central Tavern to meet some cronies. Late one 
cold winter night he said goodbye to his friends, wended his way 
home, and tucked himself snugly in bed before he remembered 
his patient nag left tied in the tavern shed more than a mile away. 

Now and then in records or recollections of the days when 
Meriden was in its infancy there is a reference to a "house 
painted red." The inference is that Meriden, like the run of old 
New England communities, was made up of houses unpainted for 
the most part, whose shingles were allowed to mellow with the 
weather. When paint was used, it was generally either bright 
red or equally bright yellow. Even the meeting houses usually 
glowed with the favorite red paint which was retained throughout 
succeeding years as a favorite barn shade. The fashion for white 
paint which is now so much a part of New England tradition, 
didn't come in until the second or third decade of the nineteenth 
century. 

A description in Mrs. Breckenridge's Recollections of the old 
Hough house so famous as a tavern is applicable on a smaller 
scale to the plan of houses in general use at the time. The front 
door opened into a square hall from which a narrow crooked 
stair rose to the second floor. On either side of the hall, doors 
opened into flanking rooms, each with its fireplace. From each of 
these rooms doors gave access to the big kitchen, the actual center 
of family life, its huge fireplace and brick ovens in constant use. 

The family ate in the kitchen, spent their evenings there 
reading, sewing, spinning, or knitting, commonly received their 
visitors there. In some homes the kitchen also doubled as sleeping 
quarters for a part of the brood growing too numerous for bed- 
rooms. Low ceilings were far more common than the high ones 
such as wealthier home owners affected. The furnishings were 
quite simple — usually a few straight-backed chairs primly lined 

54 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

against the wall, a dresser covered with an array of pewter and 
whatever lusterware the housewife could collect, a small table, 
a stand or two for candles, and a high-backed settee, maybe two, 
beside the fireplace. 

During the earliest days in Meriden, houses were provided with 
strong barricades for doors and windows as protection from 
marauding Indians. The Belcher Tavern was an example of the 
sturdy defense system necessary to the times. After the com- 
munity grew and the Indian menace was being forgotten, less 
protection was needed. Door latches were first wooden and later 
iron. The earliest ones had no thumb pieces. The latch was on 
the inside of the door to which a cord was attached and run 
through to the outside by way of a hole bored for the purpose. 
Locking the door was simply accomplished by pulling the string 
inside. 

Some houses were built with a wide front door made of two 
separated panels swinging in from each side. Such a doorway 
remains in the old Johnson house on Eaton Avenue now owned 
by Carter H. White. The simple handleless latch was no pro- 
tection for such a double door. Locking, in such cases, was 
accomplished by a stout wooden bar, longer than the width of 
the door frame, carefully fitted into equally stout wooden arms 
attached midway on the door casing, a device still in the old 
Johnson house. 

Ornamental trees on private property were neglected for many 
years after the first settlement. Landowners were too busy 
wresting a living from the stony land, which was actually a 
blessing in disguise since to it may be credited the developing of 
the creative, inventive genius of future Meridenites. But it was 
the custom from the beginning of road building to plant lines of 
trees to flank the highway. Lombardy poplars had a brief vogue, 
probably a bit of French influence, the last specimen of which 
was a scraggly tall skeleton near Hough's tavern felled in the 
1890's. But poplars were never as popular as the stately elm so 
much better suited to giving shade and graceful ornamentation. 

Orchards were an early acquisition in the neighborhood. Fruit 
trees never objected to their stony surroundings. Many barrels 
of apples were stowed away in Meriden cellars. But more found 
their way into presses of the cider mills. As early as 1718 there 
is a record of official permission to one man to erect a cider mill. 

55 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

Before Meriden became a separate town, cider mills were dotted 
all around the community. 

Creaking machinery could be heard throughout the apple 
season as it squeezed the presses that drew sweet liquid from 
fleshy pulp. No doubt Meriden boys used to congregate around 
the tubs elbowing one another out of the way as each tried to 
get his sucking-straw into the golden juice. Full barrels of cider 
were carted home. Many families had cider on the table at every 
meal. Sweet-apple cider was also boiled down to make "apple- 
molasses" much desired in pies and puddings and sauces. Inciden- 
tally tea was a beverage used only for special company. Coffee, 
home ground of course, and sweetened with molasses, was far 
more commonly used. 

Just as "Yankee" became a synonym for ingeniousness, thrift, 
and careful bargaining, — as has been said a Yankee "is a born 
arguer, a born peddler, a Jack-at-all-trades and good at them all," 
— so is "Yankee housewife" a synonym for scrupulous cleanliness. 
Indoors in Meriden, neatness was the supreme rule. Perhaps with 
the advent of wallpaper and carpets and a great variety of 
furniture and knickknacks, the neatness which was the well- 
earned repute of the New England housewife took a bit of a 
backward step. But cleanliness was always solidly next to godli- 
ness. Mrs. Breckenridge gives a delightful description of the 
hustle and bustle of seasonal housecleanings by which the early 
Meriden housewife purged her house in almost the same fervor 
that found its outlet in a spiritual revival. 

When the settlers first moved into what is now Meriden there 
was little fencing done. Pasture lands were more or less common 
property during the days before threat from Indians was entirely 
laid at rest and while wild animals were making their periodic 
depredations on domestic breeds. Men found it safer to make a 
joint project of protecting herds and flocks. It was from this 
period that "Milking Yard" got the name that is still used for a 
tract partially included in Walnut Grove property today. It 
was out there a pen was built into which cows were driven at 
milking time where owners came to milk, each his own cows. 

Cattle were branded but strays from other areas now and then 
found their way into Milking Yard, and others were too carelessly 
marked for proper identification. One of the earliest requests 
for the separation of Meriden into a village with its own 

56 , 



OLD CUSTOMS, OLD WAYS AND PROGRESS 

governmental system was based on the need for a more conveni- 
ently located "Pound" for caring for such strays. Driving cattle to 
Wallingford was far too irksome for the busy men of this 
neighborhood. 

Gradually the wilderness was being conquered. Soon it became 
feasible to divide land into parcels for private use. The tinkling 
of bells on cows and sheep that once had sent out merry tunes in 
common pasturage was reduced from mass orchestration to 
smaller units. Fences were built. Plenty of stone was at hand on 
Meriden hills for the purpose. Unhappily those picturesque piles 
of moss-grown, vine-covered rocks are fast disappearing. But in 
the early 1800's they were an integral part of the landscape. In 
the lowlands the usual fences were made by digging a ditch. On 
the ridge made by the excavated dirt a low barrier of rails, stakes, 
and brush was put up. 

Oxen did most of the heavy farm work like plowing and 
hauling. It was not until 1825 or later that horses took up that 
burden. Farmers worked from daylight to dark, from seed time 
to harvest. Tools were few and clumsy in the earliest days, but 
the very plentitude of stones put native ingenuity to work at 
devising new equipment, better than those of wood with rough 
iron edges and points — a talent that was quickly extended to the 
making of all sorts of handy gadgets that made the progress of 
Yankee peddlers welcomed throughout the countryside. 

There are many jokes about the wooden nutmegs, basswood 
hams, and white-oak cheeses, but the Yankee peddler's knowledge 
of his market, care in selecting useful goods, and integrity in 
r driving what may have been a "hard bargain," planted the seed 
from which American industry has made its sturdy and phenom- 
enal growth. Some of the best seeds were planted by Meriden. 
Charles and Hiram Yale sent out peddlers with their tinware. The 
Twiss brothers marketed their Meriden-made clocks by peddlers. 
Pratt's ivory combs went to market with peddlers. Charles Parker 
got his start making and peddling household coffee-mills. 



57 



CHAPTER TEN 



Separation from Wallingford 

Not long after Meriden attained the dignity of being a parish 
society with a name of its own, some of the settlers began to 
agitate for a new step to importance and independence. Residents 
in the north end of the parish found it inconvenient to go to 
Wallingford to attend church, town, and freeman's meetings. 
Several petitions were sent to the General Assembly requesting 
permission to become a separate town, or at the least to be annexed 
to other towns nearer than Wallingford. 

By May 1786, feeling was waxing rather high on the subject. 
A formal petition went to Hartford over the signatures of three 
appointed agents^ John Couch, Sam Whiting, and Dan Collins. 
Citing how grievously the inhabitants were subjected to "great 
trouble, inconvenience & expence" in attending the "ordinary 
Business of the Town, Proxys, Town Meetings, &c." and upon 
their business at the County and Superior Courts, they asked that 
the parish become the town of Meriden and annexed to the 
County of Middlesex. 

Wallingford countered by sending a special and eloquent 
committee to speak against the petition, which they did success- 
fully. Again in 1794 another petition to the same effect was 
drawn up to be met with a counter proposal from Wallingford 
that it would be "highly reasonable and expedient and likely to 
unite the two Societies together and prevent a separation." 
Recognizing the "disagreeableness" suffered by the society of 
Meriden in attending meetings in Wallingford, it was proposed 
to hold one-third of the meetings in Meriden, and the rest in 
Wallingford. 

Still the inhabitants of Meriden were determined to be set apart. 
Attempts in 1803 and 1804 continued to fail, but Wallingford 
leaders either tired of the struggle or accepted the inevitable. It 
was voted to choose a committee of equal numbers from each 
Wallingford and Meriden to confer. At last the final petition went 
to the General Assembly in May, 1806, showing that Meriden 
constituted in extent, population, and property more than one- 

58 



SEPARATION FROM WALLINGFORD 

third of the parent town of Wallingford. Thereupon the Assembly 
passed the resolution that "The inhabitants living within the limits 
of the parish of Meriden be and they are hereby incorporated into 
and made a Town by the name of Meriden." 

The first town meeting was held in Meriden on the third 
Monday in June, 1806, which was the 16th, at one o'clock, and 
the town officers were elected. So it was that 150 years ago 
Meriden joined the federation of independent communities so 
distinctive of Connecticut, and in the direct pattern by which 
our nation was consitiuted and has waxed in the freedom of the 
self-governed. 

The moderator, George W. Stanley, was selected by the 
General Assembly. Under his chairmanship, clerk, selectmen, 
constables, tax collector, treasurer, surveyors of the highways, 
"fence viewers," pound keepers, jurors, and weight sealer were 
elected. That was an exciting day for Meriden. 

Some of the minutes of the meeting make amusing reading 
today. Voted, they say, that any person may wear his hat in 
Town meeting "Except" when addressing the Moderator. Voted, 
That Geese shall not be suffered to run at large on the highways 
unless they are well Yoaked. 

On that day it was also voted to "lay a Tax for the purpose of 
defraying the debts and expences to which this Town now is or 
may be liable." Five mills was the first tax rate. 

A paper on taxation preserved in the Historical Society's 
collection says the list for 1826 for collections made by Asahiel 
Curtis shows nine persons paid over eight dollars each for both 
town and state tax. There were only 21 others who paid more 
than five dollars. Some who were influential citizens paid much 
less. The two smallest taxes were for a fraction of a cent, and 
both of them marked on the record as paid. It is interesting to 
note that in 1800, coaches were assessed at $168, chariots at $134, 
phaetons at $75, curricles at $68, other four-wheel carriages 
on springs at $30, each gold watch at $34, other watches at $10, 
steel and brass wheel clocks at $20, clocks with wood wheels at $7. 

According to the same paper, dwelling houses back in 1702 
were put on the books at $5 for each fireplace. Sheep that were 
sheared got a reduction on the list of 75 cents. There was a poll 
tax on citizens from 18 to 21 at $30, from 21 to 70 at $60. 

As George Munson Curtis said in his historical address for 

59 



SEPARATION FROM WALLINGFORD 

iMeriden's Centennial celebration, "There was little about the 
town in its early days which indicated that some day it would 
grow to a place of considerable size; it was simply a quiet, 
peaceful community, bent on getting a living as best it could 
from the rather sterile soil. . . ." It was still primarily a farming 
community when it attained its position as a separate town. 

There were a few business places begun by citizens who were 
looking for something other than an agricultural pursuit. The 
agriculture of Connecticut which had so recently fed Washing- 
ton's armies in Massachusetts and New York during the 
Revolution, was already of too little profit to satisfy the ambitious 
without sufficient love of the soil to compensate for its limited 
productivity and remuneration therefrom. Some were beginning 
to branch into other lines, to take what Judge Simeon Baldwin 
called "a spot of earth . . . rough hills, far from the sea, with 
no streams to furnish any considerable power, and by their 
inventive faculty, their quick eye and ready hand, their wise 
economy, their watch of markets and creation of markets. . . ." 
turn this community into a place of diversified industry whose 
products have a world-wide market. 

But in 1806 Meriden still looked very much the farm com- 
munity it was. Life revolved more or less around the tavern up 
on the East Main Street hill at the corner of Broad. It was in 
that tavern kept by Dr. Insign Hough that the town officers and 
selectmen had their headquarters. It was there, also, that the 
farmers gathered to talk over the news of the day and to discuss 
and argue community affairs. Moreover the tavern offered an 
opportunity for Meriden farmers to meet outsiders and to sample 
opinions from other parts of the country, because it was the 
popular stopping place for stagecoaches enroute from Hartford 
to New Haven or bound the other way from New York to 
Boston. 

Mrs. Breckenridge in her Recollections of a New England 
Town says also that the stages brought glimpses of city fashions 
as the passengers stopped at the famous "Hough's Tavern," the 
"Halfway House," to dine or sleep. So we can imagine that the 
tavern was a center of interest for Meriden women as well as 
the men burdened with the vote and hence obliged to keep up 
on the news. 

Most of the houses built in Meriden in the years immediately 

60 



SEPARATION FROM WALLINGFORD 

before and after the year it became a town are of modest 
construction and lacking some of the elegant touches in wood- 
work or appointment of those that came before and later. It 
seems obvious that Meriden was a bit on the "poor" side in that 
particular era — poor at least in what could be gleaned from the 
land, but rich in possibilities. Little shops began to spring up, 
places where one or two men working together were making 
things they could sell. George Curtis says that by 1820, 105 of 
the little more than 1,200 inhabitants were engaged in some sort 
of manufacturing. By the end of another two decades the 
proportion had increased to 21 per cent. Shops were larger; 
goods were durable, handsome, and useful; Meriden was making 
a name for herself in the commercial world. 

These were the sort of men to whom Meriden must be 
thankful for fashioning the shape which is our city's today. Back 
in 1849 Reverend George W. Perkins pays his tribute to the 
breed of men who founded Meriden, and their succeeding 
generations who built the community: ". . . those fathers of ours 
were men, Christian men, New England men." 

There is a pertinent comment in one of the historical papers 
written by Leland Ives to set down the history of his own family. 
He prefaces his factual genealogical account with the dry remark 
that in writing the Ives family history he was "by no means 
embarrassed with a superfluity of interesting material. A suc- 
cession of generations of most reputable New Englanders whose 
quiet lives were devoted largely to farming and mercantile 
pursuits, is not well calculated to inspire a stirring essay." 

In this present generation we can take exception to that 
judgment. It is so obvious now that the character of this city, 
which has been called an "ideal community," was shaped by the 
persistent efforts of the many "reputable New Englanders" who 
were not spectacular in their own day, but who left behind them 
a spectacular record. George W. Perkins in his history calls 
attention to a reply the Connecticut Legislature made in 1680 to 
a questionnaire from the mother country. "The country is a 
mountainous country, full of rocks, swamps and hills; and most 
that is fit for plantations is taken up," was what was in the report. 
Yet the whole state contained only about 10,000 inhabitants then. 
The men of "quiet lives", who were devoted to farming 
and their children and who used their ingenuity to manufacture 

61 



SEPARATION FROM WALLINGFORD 

desirable goods which could be made without an abundance of 
water power, wrested a good living and built the foundation 
for a happy life for succeeding generations out of meager 
resources. 

In another of the papers prepared for the early historical 
society, Henry Dryhurst reports that "when in 1806 Meriden was 
set apart from Wallingford, Amos White was named by President 
Jefferson as the first postmaster. The office was located in a one- 
story building ... on the southeast corner of Broad and East 
Main (this was the Eli Birdsey property). He was followed by 
Patrick Lewis who served until President Jackson appointed Levi 
Yale who served the next 12 years, transferring his office to 641 
Broad. The West Meriden post office was established in about 
1845 with Joel H. Guy appointed as postmaster by President 
Polk," — the office on West Main. 

The center of town life was up around the white churches on 
the top of East Main Street hill. Welcome Benham, whose paper 
for the historical society has already been quoted, recalls in 1894 
his own memory of the downtown part of Meriden as being 
"a bog swamp extending from Colony Street on the west to 
beyond Veteran on the east and southerly to South Colony 
Bridge and northerly up to or beyond Cedar Street." 

H. S. Wilcox writes in his paper for the historical collection 
that for a period of over 125 years after the Boston merchant 
Andrew Belcher built his old stone fort there is no record of any 
merchant doing business in this place and "probably the early 
settlers bought their supplies in Wallingford and Middletown." 

Mr. Wilcox notes: "In the year 1792 John Butler started the 
boot and shoe business on South Market Street (now Broad) 
nearly opposite the Center Congregational Church. ... A few 
years later Amos White had a grocery and provision store situated 
a little south of the old Meriden bank. Mr. White was the first 
town clerk of Meriden. ... Eli C. Birdsey had a dry goods store 
on the corner of East Main and South Market Streets, occupying 
the front portion of the brick building now standing there (paper 
dated in 1893) and Alanson Birdsey occupied the rear part with 
a stock of groceries." 

The Century of Meriden notes there was a store run by 
Amasa Curtis and Isaac Lewis in the former's house which stood 
at the fork of Broad and Curtis. Across the street and a bit to 

62 



SEPARATION FROM WALLINGFORD 

the north was Seth D. Plum's tavern. There was also a big barn 
just east of the Central Tavern where the stagecoach horses were 
kept. With the many residences in the area, this was Meriden's 
busy center of activity. Another "center" was growing down 
the hill near Harbor Brook, where Perkins' Blacksmith Shop 
appears on the map of that era and houses were scattered along 
the way up old Liberty Street hill past Cowles' stone-cutting 
yard and toward a tannery still further to the northeast. But 
the hilltop was the nucleus of the new town of Meriden. 

Another of the same 1894 collection of historical papers that 
fails to bear the name of its writer says: "Just what the state of 
religion was in Meriden at the beginning of this century we don't 
know, but soon after the Revolutionary War and during the 
hard times and the unsettled state of the country following that 
period, we have every reason to think it was at a low ebb. For 
74 years there seems to be no record of a revival of religion in 
this town." This anonymous writer refers with admiration to the 
"great and wonderful reviving" that had occurred under Jonathan 
Edwards in 1735. Also he expressed himself as being deeply 
impressed by the revivals of 1852-53 under the same Perkins who 
wrote our charming old history of Meriden. 

It is Mr. Perkins who has something to say about that gap in 
Meriden's spiritual growth. "So far as the morals of the town 
are concerned," he writes, "there are some rather curious facts. 
The number of taverns was astonishingly great. In 1790, and for 
some time before, when the whole population of the town was 
not more than nine hundred, and as late as 1812, there were five 
if not eight taverns within the limits of Meriden. As those taverns 
always kept ardent spirits, and as the population of the town 
was small, and as the amount of travel then was much less than 
it is now (1849) these facts indicate a low state of morals." He 
continues by contrasting his own era with the old, pointing out 
that but two taverns served Meriden in his day, a Meriden with a 
population of 3000, and at only one of those "are spiritous liquors 
sold." 



63 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 



Meriden Mines 



Meriden once had its era of seeking hidden wealth in the ground. 
Soon after the town was settled, people began to think of what 
riches might lie hidden in the rocks of our hills. As early as 1712 
the legislature passed a law for the protection and encouragement 
of potential miners in this area and in Simsbury. Shafts were sunk 
in Meriden and some vigorous prospecting done, but by whom 
nobody now knows. In 1737 a company was formed to try again 
in the abandoned works located in "milking-yard hill." 

Papers carefully copied by G. W. Perkins in his Historical 
Sketches indicate the search was for gold as well as for copper. 
He further relates that men who were "old inhabitants" in his 
time said that in their boyhood it was a matter of current belief 
that gold had actually been found here. The story also went that 
the "foreigners" working the mine appropriated and kept for 
themselves what gold was found. Anyway the means for smelting 
ore was not at hand. One attempt to ship ore to England for 
smelting resulted in disaster when the ship was lost at sea. Once 
more the mine was abandoned, never to be tried again. 

This was called the Golden Parlor Mine. Several records of 
contracts for work were preserved into Mr. Perkins' time. They 
indicated that what was then a very considerable sum of money 
was expended on a futile search. The Golden Parlor in the Walnut 
Grove section was not the only such venture. Land south of the 
Belcher property amounting to some 50 acres was leased in 1735 
"for digging all manners of metals." A good century and a half 
after that ended as an unprofitable operation, Meridenites fre- 
quently found fragments of good crystal quartz in the old pits — 
some recollect discovering bits of "lovely blue quartz." 

Still another try for buried treasure was made near the Hanging 
Hills by Dan Johnson who is reported to have lost a small 
fortune. His shafts were in what was then called Mining Hill — 
what is now the island at the south end of Merimere, since waters 
were backed up around it for our reservoir. 

It may seem incongruous to us in this day and age to find our 

64 



MERIDEN MINES 

canny forebears had what seems to us a pipe dream. But copper 
was successfully mined in Granby and iron in Salisbury. In fact 
the Salisbury mine and works were well known. The guns of the 
Constitution and other early American warships were cast at 
Salisbury out of iron mined there. Gold, silver, mica, lead, 
asbestos, copper, and cobalt have been found not too far from 
Meriden. None of it was ever in amounts that would fire a miner's 
imagination today. Sandstone such as was used to make the old 
turnpike milestones went from this neighborhood to build some 
of the lush structures of New York's earlier days. The one 
profitable product from Meriden's rocky surface is the trap rock, 
which has given being to substantial businesses for many years and 
with that we are content. Meriden's prosperity stems from the 
minds and skills of the men and women who call it "Home." 



65 



CHAPTER TWELVE 



Slavery 



In colonial days Connecticut and New Haven colonialists 
thought it was as proper to buy, sell, or keep slaves as to do the 
same with cattle, horses, or chickens. There are records of public 
auctions of slaves in Middletown. Slavery began in Connecticut 
in 1639 when one colored lad from Dutch Guiana was held as a 
slave in Hartford. Many of the Pequot Indians captured in the 
war with that enemy tribe were held as slaves. But Indians made 
unwilling workers so the practice was discontinued, although 
there was no hesitancy on the part of Connecticut people about 
selling Indians who were captives into slavery in the West Indies. 

But one of the first anti-slavery societies in the nation was 
formed in New Haven in 1833, evidence that people in this area 
were not backward in their awakening to the wrongs of the 
practice. In Meriden the abolitionist movement was sparked by a 
small group of "men of property and influence." Believing that 
slavery was a "monstrous sin," they sought to convince other 
Meridenites by bringing in a famous anti-slavery minister to speak 
at the Congregational church. 

There was also a strong and bitter anti-abolitionist feeling here 
and the leaders on that side of the controversy determined to 
break up the meeting. There ensued what is known as the 
"Meriden Riot" when two brothers named Thompson, imports to 
the community for the occasion, battered down the church door 
with a log picked up in a neighboring woodpile. Eggs, rotten and 
otherwise, and some stones were used as missiles. Women fainted, 
there were many scuffles, and much excitement. But apparently 
nobody was seriously hurt. It was, however, a cause celebre in 
Connecticut, almost resulted in the summary dismissal of the 
minister, and took many years to heal breaches caused in local 
friendships. 

An interesting postscript to this "Meriden Riot" incident is that 
one of the Thompson brothers is said to have seen a local young 
lady in church with whom he fell instantly in love. Against her 
family's wishes and the advice of friends, she finally married him 

66 



SLAVERY 

— we assume after he served the six months' jail sentence imposed 
for his part in the riot. Needless to say the couple left Meriden 
for some unidentified place "in the West." 

The slavery controversy boiled in Meriden for a long time. 
Mrs. Breckenridge in her Recollections tells about the persecution 
of two of Meriden's early manufacturers — Harlowe Isbell and 
Homer Curtis who owned a shop for making door latches. These 
two men were at the time the only local persons voting the anti- 
slavery ticket. Twice their factory was set on fire and burned 
down with all contents. Many word-of-mouth anecdotes have 
been handed down through the years about the part these men 
took in helping escaping slaves on their "underground" route to 
freedom. 

The root of the trouble in Meriden lay in disruption of trade 
with the South. By the time of the outbreak of the Civil War few 
if any slaves remained in what could be called a state of bondage 
in this neighborhood. No Meridenite was to suffer loss of personal 
property, valuable assets, by the freeing of slaves. But Meriden's 
very existence depended upon continuing employment of crafts- 
men and laborers in the variety of businesses finding ever wider 
markets. Sudden disruption of trade with the South, a ready 
market for some of Meriden's finest quality products, hit where 
it hurt. When the inevitable came to pass, many a family faced 
some extremely lean years before a subsequent readjustment 
restored trade which was, and still is, Meriden's life-blood. The 
shortages normal in war times were many times compounded by 
unemployment. It was very natural that the moral issue of slavery 
was confused in local minds by intrusion of serious dislocation 
in budding industries. 

Actual slavery in Meriden itself was of too small an extent to 
make it a great local issue. Meriden was stirred in the controversy 
by theoretical and religious conviction mainly. Perkins in his 
history says only a few slaves were owned here. But their condi- 
tion, living as they did singly in the families of their owners 
and working side-by-side with them, was very different from that 
of slaves worked in gangs under overseers as was done in the 
South. Meriden slaves were considered members of the family 
and baptized as such on the plan of "household baptism." 

Mr. Perkins lists many records showing such baptisms and the 
no less carefully recorded deaths. From 1728 to 1766 he says 

67 



SLAVERY 

29 deaths out of 316 were so worded as to indicate they were 
slaves. He also notes that slave trade as such never existed in 
Meriden although there were some transfers of slaves made in the 
same manner as transfers of other personal property. 

Emancipation by proclamation made little difference in 
Meriden. Some of the local slaves had already been freed before 
the great national decision was taken. Others were living in the 
promise of early release and with the knowledge their children 
would not be born into slavery. There was not a hitch in the 
transition to the enlightened era for which the Civil War was 
fought that was caused by slaves themselves, or by owners 
reluctant to change their status. There were, however, honest 
differences of opinion among Meriden's rugged individualists 
about the issues that culminated in the bloody, heart-breaking 
war. These left scars as deep if not as notorious as that made by 
the "Meriden Riot." 



68 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 



rijrwrwvr 



The Railroad, Past and Present 

When the first "iron horse" snorted into Meriden on December 
3, 1838, the stagecoach horses in the stable on Broad Street may 
have pricked their ears and trembled with fright as the strange 
sounds of its coming drifted up the hill. But the trainload of 
dignitaries, pulled by a primitive locomotive, which arrived to 
mark the opening of the new railroad, marked also the beginning 
of the end of stagecoach days here. The horses were soon to be 
retired from the business of hauling travelers between New Haven 
and Hartford, and the mechanical steed was to take over this 
task permanently. 

No single factor has played a larger part in shaping the pattern 
of Meriden's growth than the course taken by the railroad through 
the low lands at the valley's deepest depression, where Harbor 
Brook nows sluggishly on its way to join the Quinnipiac River. 
The tracks were laid over a swamp, and there was quicksand 
under the rails where they crossed East Main Street, a condition 
which was to cause much trouble to maintenance crews in later 
years. But an early proposal to run the line east of Broad Street, 
then the center of the town, was strongly opposed, and the 
thinly settled section of West Meriden was chosen. The westward 
trend of the town's expansion was thus established. 

The railroad was incorporated by the State Legislature in 1833, 
when Andrew Jackson was still President. But the project did 
not come to life until several years later. The interval was filled 
with the loud complaints of those who saw their means of liveli- 
hood threatened by the proposed line: tavern keepers, holders of 
toll gate privileges, the center and fringes of the stagecoach 
enterprise, including its many stockholders. 

Two Meriden men, both large property owners in West 
Meriden, were influential in backing the plan to run the railroad 
through that section. They were Major Elisha A. Cowles and 
Judge James S. Brooks, who sold part of their holdings to help 
the railroad establish its right of way. With an eye for future 
possibilities, they had assisted in pushing the bill of incorporation 

69 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

through the State Legislature, and were well prepared for the 
later moves. 

Judge Brooks was an especially interesting figure. At the age 
of 12, he had been bound out to a tavern keeper in Haddam, but 
ran away after he had been threatened with a beating. He trudged 
the 25 miles to Meriden with all his belongings wrapped in a 
bandana, and his sister, who lived here, took him in. For a time, 
he worked on a farm in Westfleld. He spent his spare hours 
studying and finally was admitted to the Connecticut Bar. Gradu- 
ally, he accumulated considerable property, and his farm, through 
which the railroad was to run, was known as one of the finest in 
Meriden. In selling land for the right of way, he made an astute 
move, for, as business began to develop in West Meriden, he was 
able to subdivide his property into business and residential streets. 
Today, many of Aderiden's business blocks stand on the original 
farm site. The First Congregational Church is located on land 
once owned by him, and the factories and business blocks on 
State Street are also placed on the Brooks farm lands. Brooks 
Street took its name from the judge. Until her death in 1949, his 
granddaughter, Miss Sarah Collins, lived in a little brown house, 
filled with heirlooms, at the side of the tracks. This property 
has gone the way of other old landmarks, so many of which were 
effaced as business advanced. An old cow barn stood for years 
on Miss Collins' property, converted into a garage. A viaduct 
was incorporated into the deed to the railroad company so that 
the judge's cows could be driven under the tracks to their 
pastures. The judge, when selling his land, insisted on a provision 
that all passenger trains stop in Meriden, and this proviso has 
been brought forward at times when the railroad was considering 
curtailing the number of station stops for express trains. 

Rockney's History of New Haven County states that the first 
depot was in Rogers Hotel from 1840 to 1842, when it was moved 
across the street to the rear of Conklin's Hotel beside the railroad 
track, where the "Railroad Refectory" contained the ticket office 
and a waiting room for passengers. A paper prepared by Allen B. 
Squire, when paymaster of the New Haven Railroad, contradicts 
this version. Addressing the original Meriden Historical Society 
in 1894, Mr. Squire stated that the first passenger station in 
Meriden was on what is now Railroad Avenue, and was in 
connection with Capt. Conklin's Hotel, which fronted on Main 

70 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

Street. This building, he reported, was destroyed by fire, and the 
station waiting room was temporarily located in the northeast 
corner of the building which stood at the corner of East Main 
and South Colony Streets. Major Cowles and Dr. Isaac Hough 
owned the land and the building, which was later remodeled into 
a hotel run by Hervey Rogers. In its later history, it was known 
as the Rogers Block and contained Connors' Segar Store and a 
shoe-shining establishment, until it was torn down to permit the 
widening of the corner which is now the beginning of the Loop. 

In November 1842, Nelson Merriam and H. M. Foster issued 
a poster bearing the picture of the hotel which then occupied 
the corner of East Main Street and Railroad Avenue, part of the 
land on which the present Cherniack Building stands. It showed 
the "Railroad Refectory" protruding beyond the rear of an 
engine, with the freight station opposite, where the present 
railroad platform is located. 

The poster announced "respectfully" to "friends and the public 
generally" that this "new and spacious establishment, eligibly 
located at the Depot of the Hartford and New Haven Railroad, 
is now open for the reception of Company." It boasted that "the 
House has been furnished throughout with New Furniture, and 
every arrangement has been made for the comfort and conveni- 
ence of guests." Particular attention, it stated, "will be devoted 
to Parties of Pleasure," and boasted that a "Refectory is con- 
nected, where a variety of Refreshments are prepared for the 
accommodation of PASSENGERS BY THE CARS." The 
advertisement was signed by N. Merriam and H. M. Foster, 
proprietors. 

Like Judge Brooks, Major Cowles was a prosperous local 
businessman who could look into the future and see visions of 
even greater prosperity. The two men had engaged in a joint 
transaction some years before the railroad route was planned. 
They had bought seven acres, including the site of the present 
Derecktor Building at the corner of West Main and Colony 
Streets. In 1831, they conveyed to the town a strip of land 20 
feet wide on the west side of Colony Street as far as the present 
Wilcox Block to widen the street from a narrow road to its 
present width. Both became directors of the new railroad, and 
Judge Brooks was acting president in 1856 and signed the annual 
report in 1859. Eli Butler was a director in 1868 and in 1909 John 

71 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

L. Billard was a director. After the lease of the Boston and Maine 
Railroad, Charles F. Linsley and Mr. Billard were directors of 
that railroad. All these connections of local men with railroad 
enterprise arose from the spadework done by the Cowles-Brooks 
combination of interests in the early period. 

South of Main Street, the railroad traversed the land it had 
purchased from Major Cowles. North of Main Street, it ran over 
property bought from Judge Brooks. Major Cowles, one of the 
incorporators, served as a director for a number of years. 

The line between New Haven and Meriden was the first link 
in this section of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad 
system. For a year after this link was completed, stagecoaches 
carried the passengers on to Hartford. Eventually the Hartford 
& New Haven, as it was called, combined with the later-built 
Hartford and Springfield, and finally with the New York & New 
Haven to form the New York, New Haven & Hartford. The 
New York end was completed in 1849. 

In 1847, Judge Brooks was elected president of the Springfield, 
Hartford and New Haven Railroad, which had its southern 
terminus at Belle Dock, New Haven, where connections were 
made with New York and other places by steamboat until train 
service to New York was established. 

But in the Meriden of 1838 these possibilities were only guessed. 
The tracks ran here and stopped, and business began to gather in 
that neighborhood. 

A tavern was not the ideal location for a station, although it 
did offer accommodation to travelers in the way of quick refresh- 
ments. Dr. Hough and the Major could compete with the Central 
Tavern uptown on rather favorable terms, for the trains could 
hold more passengers than the stagecoaches, but the stages ran 
more frequently than the trains at the beginning of this new era. 

The railroad at the start was a great novelty. The puffing 
locomotive seemed like a great monster from another world. 
People were awed by its appearance and the clamor of its coming. 
Horses plunged and reared as they came near the crossing. John 
Ives, who was to become a prosperous dry-goods merchant when 
he grew up, often told the story of the day when he first heard 
the steam engine whistle. He was then a boy on a farm in the 
southeast district. The whistle blew as the train came through 
Holt's Hill cut, and John ran home in fright to tell his mother 

72 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

that some great beast was making terrible sounds in the woods. 

But it didn't take long for the feeling of strangeness to wear 
away, as the business possibilities in connection with the railroad's 
location were recognized. 

Meanwhile, the railroad was making some progress in its own 
operations. The income for the first three months was $15,500, 
which dropped to $8,000 during the next three months when the 
Connecticut River was open. During the first summer, receipts 
were $8,500, giving a gross income of $32,000 for the first nine 
months. 

The road had four locomotives, valued at $18,000 for the lot. 
Five four-wheel freight cars were valued at $1,500. 

In the summer of 1845, T rails were substituted for the old 
iron bars on the southern part of the line. During 1843, a little 
more than $1,000 was expended in Meriden for station and depot 
improvements. In 1846, the fare was reduced from a little more 
than four cents to three cents a mile. 

In 1850, a branch track from Berlin to Middletown was placed 
in operation. In the same year, double track was laid from 
Meriden to Berlin. A second track was laid on the southern 
portion of the road about 1852, and in 1854 double tracking of 
the whole main line was completed. 

The business center of Meriden was to be well started toward 
its present development before the railroad was to have a station 
of its ownjln 1854, the railroad bought from William Hale for 
$3,000 a tract of land then known as the Hale "garden plot." It 
faced Colony Street and extended through to the railroad tracks. 
On this land, the present site of the Colony Building, a brick 
station was erected which was to be used for 28 years. The place 
was later known as Winthrop Square. 

Surrounding the station was an open plaza, where large elm 
trees flourished on the Colony Street frontage. Majestic elms 
lined Colony Street at that period, and remained undisturbed for 
many years. They survived the leisurely horse-and-buggy era, 
and were removed only when they were recognized as an obstacle 
to the curbside parking of automobiles in front of Colony Street 
stores. 

But parking was no problem in the nineteenth century, and the 
railroad plaza was not congested with traffic. Merriam's hackstand 
near the station drew its patronage from the trains. It was the 

73 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

forerunner of the taxicab companies which compete for business 
near the present station. 

In 1864, fire destroyed most of the buildings on the east side 
of Colony Street, and the station was badly damaged. It was 
repaired and continued in use for 19 more years. 

When a new passenger station was built in Wallingford in 
1878, Meriden was envious. Agitation was begun for a new station 
here, and the railroad decided to meet the local demands. In 1865, 
a new freight station had been erected on State Street extension, 
and the site occupied by the old freight station, across the tracks 
from the old passenger station, was chosen as the site for new 
passenger facilities. 

The new station was much larger than the station which now 
serves Meriden. It had a mansard roof and cupola, two almost 
inevitable details of the florid architectural style of the period. 
Along the side nearest to the tracks ran a long platform covered 
with a canopy upheld by iron struts. The interior was poorly 
lighted and the general effect was depressing, especially so after 
the building was allowed to run down in the course of the years. 
But in the seventies, when all was new, the station was regarded 
as one of the finest on the line. 

The Winthrop Hotel was built not long after the big station 
was opened to the public. A private way between the depot and 
Colony Street was established along the southerly border of the 
tract on which the old station stood, and the public was quick to 
take advantage of the short cut. The narrow passage provided a 
convenient route between the station and the hotel. The hotel 
porters trucked trunks and baggage over it for many years. This 
sort of traffic has ceased, but the passage is still used by many 
pedestrians, and any hint that it might be closed has always 
aroused a storm of protest. 

As the years passed, pride in the station declined. More than 
20 years ago, sentiment began to gather for a new station better 
suited to Meriden's needs. The old station was too large for the 
volume of passenger traffic served, railroad officials admitted. It 
was also dingy and unattractive in all respects, and all too little 
attention was devoted to keeping it clean. 

Eventually, local efforts to induce the railroad to build a new 
station were successful. The present brick building, a much more 
compact structure, was erected in 1942, and formally opened on 

74 






THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

September 21 of that year. It contained all the necessary facilities, 
including an attractive waiting room. Combined with it is a 
comfort station, built at city expense, and operated by the city 
for the convenience of the public. A small building for the 
Railway Express agency was built at the north end of the railroad 
area. 

Considerable thought was devoted to improving this area to 
provide easy access to the station while interfering as little as 
possible with the flow of traffic on State Street. A wide sweep 
of concrete-paved driveway leads to the side of the building on 
the east, and there is room here for the Hartford, New Haven, 
and Middletown buses to take on and discharge passengers when 
connecting with trains. A division separates this driveway from 
State Street, giving a place for one taxi stand. Another taxicab 
company is allowed to use space along the platform south of the 
station. On the north side of the building is a railroad parking 
area, where short-time parking is permitted. But the great increase 
in traffic in the last ten years has produced new problems in 
connection with the station's location, and the proposal to re- 
locate it, which arose in 1955, was an attempt to solve them. 

If the plan had gone through as outlined, the present freight 
station on State Street Extension would have been converted into 
a passenger station. The International Silver Company offered to 
purchase from the railroad the site of the passenger station and 
the adjacent land bordering its own property. Part of the land 
thus acquired was to be re-sold to the city for an off-street parking 
area. The Public Utilities Commission refused to approve this 
transaction, believing that the new passenger facilities to be 
provided would be inferior to the existing facilities. Its action 
appears to have put a period to the negotiations. 

Such problems as these were more than a century away from 
the stuggling railroad of the 1840's. They were still undreamed 
of when the railroad attained a virtual monopoly on transportation 
here at the close of the Civil War. But there were other problems 
just as serious. 

The railroad had given a new aspect to Meriden. It had fostered 
the growth which was to result in the incorporation of the city 
in 1867. But the growing pains were acute, and some of them, 
local industrialists and businessmen believed, were due to the 
highhanded way in which the railroad was being managed. 

75 



the railroad, past and present 

The Short Lines 

The first attempt to break the railroad monopoly came in 1869, 
when a special town meeting appointed a committee to seek pas- 
sage through the Legislature of a bill to authorize the town to 
subscribe $100,000 to the capital stock of a proposed Meriden 
and Cheshire Railroad. A little later, the town of Cheshire 
authorized a subscription to the same enterprise. 

At that time, the only independent north and south railroad was 
the New Haven and Northampton Railroad, the Canal line, and 
it was probable that the proposed line was to connect with it and 
thus form a new route to New York, which would provide 
competition and lower rates. But the New York, New Haven 
and Hartford Railroad acquired control of the Canal line, and 
the scheme for the Meriden and Cheshire Railroad was effectually 
blocked. 

The local manufacturers were still determined to find some way 
of beating railroad rates, which they considered discriminatory. 
The cost of bringing in coal and heavy supplies was a heavy 
burden on manufacturing. A proposal was advanced to build a 
railroad from Meriden to the Connecticut River at Cromwell, 
there to connect with boat and barge service on the river to New 
York and ports along the Atlantic coast. The announcement of 
this plan in 1881 triggered immediate and unexpected results. The 
Consolidated, as the New Haven Road was then known, reduced 
freight rates to Meriden by 25 per cent. Local businessmen were 
warned that this was just a trick, and that the advantages might 
be only temporary. Sentiment for a competitive railroad con- 
tinued strong, and one of Meriden's foremost industrialists did 
all that he could to encourage it. 

This man was Horace C. Wilcox, pioneer and leader in the 
rapidly growing silver industry. The original capitalization of 
the proposed road was set at $300,000 of which $230,000 was 
pledged before the first organization meeting. Mr. Wilcox 
declared himself ready to take any remaining stock, but he hoped 
that the stock could be spread throughout the business com- 
munity. About 150 citizens of the Meriden area attended the 
initial meeting July 5, 1882, when 17 directors were elected, who, 
a few days later, elected Mr. Wilcox as the president of the line. 

The air was full of optimism. One newspaper comment was: 

76 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

"It is fair to hope that the sound of the locomotive whistle will 
be heard on the road before the snow flies." This was the summer 
of 1884, when the route of the new line was being mapped. 

The railroad was actually built during the following eight 
months, with terminal facilities established in Cromwell. At this 
end of the line, there was some dispute over the terminus site, 
but it was finally decided to place the passenger and freight station 
and the yards between Camp and Center Streets, the site now 
occupied by the New Departure Division of General Motors. 
The right of way skirted Brookside Park, then called Camp's 
Meadow, and the south edge of Pratt's Pond. The road purchased 
40 freight cars, one passenger coach, and one light engine, planning 
to buy a heavy engine later. 

On April 1, 1885 the State Railroad Commission made a trip 
over the line and pronounced it fit for service. On April 6, service 
actually began. The timetable gave the trains 35 minutes to make 
the run to Cromwell, with flag stops at Highland, Smith's crossing 
and Westneld. There were three round trips daily, timed to 
connect with the Hartford-New York boats on the Connecticut 
River. If shippers got their freight to the Meriden station by 5 
p.m. it would be delivered in New York the next morning. 

The Meriden and Cromwell line also tried to foster passenger 
traffic by advertising excursions to New York via the Hartford 
and New York steamboats. Such excursions were popular in the 
eighties, and the down-river runs attracted large crowds. One 
favorite run was via the steamer "Sunshine" to Sag Harbor, 
Shelter Island, and Niantic. There was also a "circular" trip, by 
way of Cromwell, the river run, and back by boat to New Haven, 
leaving New York at 3 p.m., and reaching Meriden by the 
"steamboat train" at 9 p.m. This gave a day in New York and 
consumed a little more than 24 hours. 

The initial success of the Meriden and Cromwell line, which 
was able to show a small profit after nine months of operation, 
produced many proposals for extensions to New Britain, Plain- 
ville, Wallingford, and even New Haven, as well as to Bristol, 
Waterbury, and Middletown. 

"The one with the most steam behind it," according to Glover 
A. Snow whose exhaustive article on the subject of early railroads 
in this vicinity was published in the August 1953 issue of 
Transportation, was "a projected extension to Waterbury." 

77 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

In Waterbury, this proposal led to citizens' meetings, stock- 
selling efforts, and a bid for legislative approval of consolidation 
of the Meriden and Cromwell with the projected Meriden and 
Waterbury railroad. It was pointed out that the Consolidated 
freight rates were actually higher than they had been before the 
announced 25 per cent reduction in 1881. And they had prac- 
tically been frozen at high levels by the original Interstate Com- 
merce Commission Act of 1887. But, when it came to picking 
up a share of the check for the new line, Waterbury citizens 
held back. The road was financed with great difficulty, and 
Meriden had to take a much larger part of the investment than 
originally contemplated. 

The new line took off from the Meriden and Cromwell tracks 
east of Twiss Pond in Meriden, went under Britannia and Broad 
Streets, passed over North Colony Road just north of the old 
city line, bridged the tracks of the New Haven, then turned 
southwest and crossed numerous streets. Iron bridges were used 
at North Colony Street, the crossing over the Consolidated, and 
at Gracey, Kensington, and Lewis Avenues. Beyond Lewis 
Avenue, the tracks were almost at street grade, but overpasses 
were erected at street crossings. Land was purchased north of 
West Main Street for a passenger station, yards, engine house, 
shops, and turntable. 

The most difficult feat of construction was in laying the tracks 
from West Cheshire to Summit, a distance of three miles, with 
an elevation reaching 549 feet. 

Before the line could be completed, Horace C. Wilcox had to 
rescue the financing by pouring into it much additional capital 
of his own. He and other Meriden men dominated the enterprise, 
although Charles Dickenson of Waterbury was elected president. 
There were many squabbles over the right of way between the 
new railroad and property holders along the route. 

After numerous delays, one of them occasioned by the famous 
blizzard of 1888, the Waterbury line was finally completed in 
the spring of that year. On May 24, 1888, the Meriden and 
Cromwell and the Meriden and Waterbury were consolidated as 
the Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut River Railroad Com- 
pany. Horace C. Wilcox was elected president of the combined 
lines. Among the directors were Abiram Chamberlain, later 
governor of Connecticut, and George R. Curtis, both of Meriden. 

78 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

The road earned seven per cent for its investors the first six 
months it was in operation. A large volume of freight traffic 
barged up the river to Cromwell was carried over the new line. 
But the next six months told a different story. In March 1889 the 
directors authorized an issue of $400,000 in second mortgage 
bonds to obtain more capital. The expense of operating the 
Meriden-Waterbury part of the line had proved much heavier 
than was expected. Horace C. Wilcox again found the needed 
funds. 

The waiting room and ticket office at the West Main Street 
station were opened June 17, 1889. But for passengers it was a 
crude type of railroading. If a car went off the track, a rather 
frequent type of accident, the people aboard had to get off and 
walk or catch a ride in a horse-drawn vehicle. There were no 
telephones with which to summon aid. 

After the death of Horace C. Wilcox, August 26, 1890, the 
road was without its strongest source of support. The Wilcox 
estate held $176,000 and the Meriden Britannia Company, of 
which he was president, $100,000 of the total capital invested, or 
$276,000 of the $375,000 in stock which represented the invest- 
ment of Meriden stockholders. The road was mortgaged for 
$1,000,000. 

The subsequent chapters in the line's history told a sad story. 
In 1892, a syndicate headed by New York and Boston financiers 
with large railroad interests obtained control, but several Meriden 
men, including Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Curtis remained on the 
board. The New York, New Haven & Hartford and the New 
York & New England railroads were both suspected of having a 
hand in the deal, but the Consolidated spokesmen said they didn't 
want it. Later, it was discovered that the New York & New 
England had obtained a lease, but its validity had to be tested in 
the courts. Somehow the road struggled along, but the New York 
& New England went into bankruptcy and its assets were sold. 
As a result, the New Haven obtained control, and all the special 
rates for which Meriden had fought were abrogated. The purpose 
of the line had been defeated. 

For two years, operations ceased, and the line was threatened 
with the loss of its charter. This brought action, and a new 
corporation was formed in 1898 under the name of the Middle- 
town, Meriden & Waterbury Railroad Company. Ownership was 

79 



THE RAILROAD, PAST AND PRESENT 

in the hands of "friends of the New Haven Railroad," which really 
controlled the line. The section between Westfleld and Cromwell 
was abandoned. Trains were run into Middletown from Westfleld 
over the Middletown-Berlin branch of the New Haven instead of 
going into Cromwell. The first train from Meriden to Waterbury 
went over the line on December 5, 1898. Mixed trains of freight 
and passengers were run, and there was considerable traffic. 

From 1902 on, the line was operated under direct lease by the 
New Haven. By 1906, much of it had been electrified, and high- 
speed cars were used. Instead of running to the West Main Street 
station, a connection was made at Brookside Park with the city 
trolley tracks on Pratt Street, and the New Haven Road's Meriden 
station was the terminus for the Middletown interurban cars. The 
Meriden to Middletown service was operated by the Connecticut 
Company, the street railway subsidiary. The Meriden to Water- 
bury part of the road had not been electrified with the rest of 
it, and service was cut on that line until it finally went out of 
operation on June 24, 1917. 

Meriden to Middletown hourly service was continued until 
1927, when buses took over. But trolley service ran as far as 
Westfield until 1932. 

Most of the roadbed of the old line, which furnished so many 
picturesque incidents in the history of Meriden transportation, is 
now covered over with trees, bushes, and weeds. Hikers still tramp 
along parts of the right of way, but only the old-timers among 
the walkers realize that they are passing along the route of an 
ambitious venture, which had its high moments, but flopped when 
the demand which brought it into being finally ceased. 



80 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 



f WWWW 



Industry of the 19 th Century 

"Such is the surface of our town, so much of it covered with 
rocky and barren ridges, or with swamps unfit for tillage, that 
if we had remained exclusively an agricultural town, our popula- 
tion would not have increased, probably for the last thirty years, 
and our pecuniary circumstances would have been equally 
cramped. . . . one who was acquainted with this place 35 years 
ago, wearing every appearance of stagnation and dilapidation, 
must, with high gratification, contrast that decay with the life, 
thrift and taste now so characteristic of Meriden." 

So wrote G. W. Perkins, historian of early Meriden in 1849, 
when the industrial life of the community was in first bloom. 

Whether or not the poverty of the land was the main incentive, 
it is certain that the trend of occupations was away from agricul- 
ture and toward manufacturing in the 1820's and the 1830's, and 
that industry had been established as the chief source of livelihood 
here by 1845. In that year, the records of the time showed that 
640 Meriden men, out of a population of about 3,200, were 
engaged in manufacturing. The town had grown by more than 
1,000 residents in the previous 20 years, but growth was much 
more rapid after that, and the growth of industry was the 
principal reason. 

The early stages of manufacturing here began with the appli- 
cation of waterpower to turn the wheels of crude machinery for 
finishing goods. The plants were scattered along the reaches of 
Harbor Brook, from near its sources in the eastern part of the 
town to where it joined the Quinnipiac. In 1825, these little 
establishments included a carding and filling mill for processing 
wool brought from surrounding towns, placed nearly where the 
brook crosses the Middletown road; the sawmill of Asahel 
Baldwin near the Westneld road, and a grist mill close at hand; 
the ivory comb factory of Howard Pratt & Co. near the New 
Haven and Hartford turnpike; the door latch factory of Isbell & 
Curtis about two miles farther downstream; and a sawmill at the 
crossing of the old Hanover Road, the last on Harbor Brook 

81 



INDUSTRY OF THE 1°TH CENTURY 

before it joined the Quinnipiac. Sodom Brook had no industries. 

Another tributary of the Quinnipiac was the little stream of 
Crow Hollow which gave power to the brass works of Lauren 
Merriam and the ivory comb works of Walter Webb & Co. Near 
the Cheshire border, the power of the stream was utilized by 
Henry Griswold for the manufacture of bone buttons. At 
Hanover, the abundant water power turned the wheels of the 
factory of Brooks & Tibbals, who made augers. Half a mile below 
was the plant of Sanford Parmelee & Co., manufacturing augers 
and skates. 

The factories just enumerated comprised the whole list of 
Meriden plants in 1830 that were operated by auxiliary power, 
except the tannery works of John Butler at the corner of Liberty 
and Broad Streets, and the pewter works of Ashbil Griswold at 
his residence on Griswold Street, each of which used a horse 
attached to a sort of merry-go-round to move light machinery. 

In addition to the products of these factories were the products 
turned out in little shops which were family affairs. The Curtis 
family especially was noted for its production of pewter table- 
wares. Nearly every Curtis, man and boy, acquired skill at this 
trade. Several larger shops produced tinware, including Patrick 
Clark & Sons of Clarksville, Goodrich & Rutty, south of the 
center, and Noah Pomeroy on the east side. This was the type 
of goods marketed by the peddlars with their wagons. These 
family businesses laid the foundation for the great industry which 
was to give Meriden the name of the Silver City. 

But Meriden was not a silver town in 1840. Its chief industry 
at that time was the manufacture of ivory combs, with tinware 
J a close second. The tinware apprentices worked 12 hours daily 
for about 75 cents, and their wages were considered high. 

Julius Pratt & Company, successor to Howard Pratt & Co., 
became the leader in the comb industry. To this plant the great 
elephant tusks, weighing from 60 to 80 pounds apiece, were 
brought to be processed into combs in about 20 operations. Blanks 
were fed to automatic machines which stamped out the combs 
complete. In the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C, is 
a solid ivory cane with gold mountings made by Julius Pratt & 
Co. and presented by the firm to President John Quincy Adams. 

The plant of Walter Webb & Co., at first in Crow Hollow and 
later at Hanover, was a Pratt auxiliary, with purchases and sales 

82 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

for a joint account. In 1848, the Pratt factory was destroyed by 
fire, and the Webb plant operated night and day for more than 
a year to supply the demand for ivory combs, showing a profit 
of 100 per cent on the invested capital. The Pratt plant was 
rebuilt and continued in operation until profits went out of the 
ivory comb business due to the substitution of cheaper and 
eventually more satisfactory materials. 

At one time, three fourths of the ivory combs made in America 
were turned out by the Pratt interests. 

There was a constant search here during the 40's and 50's for 
products that would sell easily from peddlars' wagons. Carpetbags, 
hoop skirts, and balmorals, a kind of woollen skirt, were turned 
out by Jedediah Wilcox. 

A peculiar article of neckwear called a "stock" was once 
manufactured extensively by Allen and Hezekiah Rice. It was 
made of silk or satin over a framework of bristles, three or four 
inches wide, and clasped with a buckle at the back of the neck. 

Ira Twiss & Brother built a factory at the head of Prattsville 
Pond late in the 30's, and there turned out wooden wheels for 
clockworks. These clocks were distributed by peddlars who 
took care not to visit the same home twice, for expansion and 
contraction of the wooden works made the clocks erratic time- 
keepers. This industry declined rapidly after Chauncey Jerome 
of Bristol in 1835 devised machinery with dies for stamping out 
clock wheels, and thus furnished a springboard for the manufac- 
ture of cheap clocks that would really keep time. The Bradley & 
Hubbard Mfg. Company here turned out brass clock wheels for 
a brief period about the middle of the century. 

Meriden could establish a claim to priority in the manufacture 
of table cutlery, but the industry here was 16 years in developing. 
Julius Pratt & Co. had made bone handles for this type of ware, 
brought to the United States by two Englishmen, Evans and 
Longdon, in 1836. At first, production was "farmed out" to 
convict labor at Wethersfield Prison in an attempt to overcome 
the differential between the cost of American and English labor, 
but the effort proved a failure. Walter Webb & Co. at Hanover 
acquired the process, and the firm of Pratt, Ropes, Webb & Co. 
was formed in 1845 to turn out the product. Ten years later, the 
Meriden Cutlery Company was organized to continue with the 
line, and bone-handled table cutlery remained an important 

83 



INDUSTRY OF THE 1°TH CENTURY 

Meriden product for a long period. 

But large-scale manufacture here awaited the introduction of 
steam power. According to Julius Pratt, who returned to Meriden 
for the Centennial celebration in 1906, the first steam engine used 
here was installed before 1840 by Remick K. Clarke in his small 
tinning factory, which was destroyed by fire shortly afterward. 
Charles Parker, who founded the Charles Parker Company in 1832, 
the only manufacturing concern of that period which has survived 
to the present day, is credited with being the first successful user 
of steam power here. As late as 1847, he was still the only local 
user of steam to turn factory wheels. 

But the practical application of steam was not the only "first" 
for Charles Parker. His name stood for pioneering enterprise in 
many fields. He was public spirited throughout his long career, 
and ahead of his time in the quest for civic improvement. He was 
one of the group which turned Meriden from a little country 
town into an incorporated city, and he became its first mayor. 

Mr. Parker was born on June 2, 1809 in Cheshire, and was 
"bound out" to work on a farm. In 1828, he came to Meriden and 
was hired by Patrick Lewis to make coffee mills. In December 
1829, he went into business for himself with a capital of $70, 
taking a contract for 1 3 months to make coffee mills for Lewis & 
Holt. By 1831, he had accumulated enough capital to purchase 
land near Broad Street and build a shop which was finished in 
1832. The original power plant of the shop was a blind horse 
hitched to a pole sweep, and the horse plodded hour after hour 
in a circle in the rear of the shop. The principal product of this 
small enterprise was coffee mills. In 1844, in an enlarged plant 
powered by steam, Mr. Parker is reported to have been the first 
local manufacturer to plate spoons and forks. Some holloware 
was also made. Another enterprise with which he was connected 
was the manufacture of steam engines, printing presses, and 
machinists' tools. In this he was jointly engaged with Oliver Snow, 
an ingenious mechanic. 

There was also the C. and E. Parker Company which made 
brass and iron castings. 

By 1860, the various concerns in which Mr. Parker was 
interested employed about 1,000 men and 100 women, with a 
monthly payroll of S3 0,000 to $40,000, large-scale business for 
those times. 

84 




Residence Frederick M. Stevens, Jr. 
304 Parker Avenue, built 1743 




Residence Carter H. White 
203 Eaton Avenue, built circa 1785 



FALLS Plain 

DIVISION. 



February 49? 



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Residence Robert S. Rice 
651 Paddock Avenue, built 1796 




Lucchini Homestead 
234 Coe Avenue, built before 1795 




Daniel Hough, or Alfred P. Curtis Homestead 




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Curtis Street Horsecar 




Residence Robert Berger 
164 Broad Street, built circa 1735 




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East Main Street, Middletown Road 




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The Eli Birdsey House 
Corner East Main and Broad Streets, built 1830 




William H. Race Residence 
93 Curtis Street, a spoon factory in the early 19th century 




East Alain Street, circa 1885 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

To the original coffee mills of the Parker Company, a varied 
line had been added by the mid-century, including German silver 
knives, forks, and spoons, tobacco boxes, sewing birds, silver plated 
spectacles, vises, waffle irons, miscellaneous hardware, sewing 
machines, locks, and presses. 

With the Civil War, the Parker Company turned to the 
production of military rifles for the Union armies. They manu- 
factured the regular standard breech-loading single-shot musket 
used by the Northern troops, and also developed one of the first 
repeating military rifles, which was used by the Kentucky Militia 
and drew Confederate protests that it was a barbarous weapon. 
After the war, the famous Parker gun was the result of the 
experience the company had acquired in the manufacture of 
firearms. It was continued as a local product until 1934, when the 
business was sold to the Remington Arms Company of Con- 
necticut. Parker guns are still highly prized. 

Mr. Parker was his own salesman in the busy period after the 
Civil War. He made one trip during the year, starting immediately 
after New Year's Day, and visiting the wholesale hardware houses 
which were accustomed to giving him orders for their full yearly 
requirements. 

Meriden in the 1840's was shaking off the old, crude methods 
of small shops and turning to the first trials of multiple machine 
processes. Skilled craftsmanship, however, was to remain a mark 
of Meriden products, and the best features of the old skills have 
been retained up to the present. Their retention has helped to 
uphold the reputation for quality which has always gone with 
the goods sent out from here to circle the world. 

Meriden's greatest industry — silver manufacturing — was still 
in the embryo stage when the 40's began. It did not spring to 
life as a fledgling of recognizable breed. At first, it was a sort 
of hybrid creature with tin wings, a pewter body, and a head 
faintly coated with a semblance of silver. This was the offspring 
of the little shops. 

Ashbil Griswold and others were making pewter kitchen 
utensils in Meriden as early as 1808. Difficulty in obtaining tin 
had interfered with the production of britannia metal by processes 
known even earlier. Pewter ware was a sort of bridge to overcome 
the scarcity of tin, and when tin became more plentiful, britannia 
entered its day. It was more brilliant in appearance, harder and 

85 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

more resistant to wear, and could be cleaned and polished to a 
high lustre. The peddlars were able to sell britannia articles in 
quantity to housewives. 

By 1850, Ashbil Griswold, the pioneer, was producing britannia 
ware in North Meriden or Fraryville. James A. Frary and Couch 
& Benham made similar wares nearby. In East Meriden or Bangall, 
Isaac C. Lewis, George Curtis, and Darius Bingham, Jr. turned 
out britannia ware in addition to pewter. The Curtises, Edwin E. 
and Lemuel J., were making britannia on Curtis Street. Enos Curtis 
had a britannia factory at the north end on Britannia Street. The 
pewter shop of William W. Lyman was also on Britannia Street. 
S. L. Cone and L. G. Baldwin were also engaged in britannia 
manufacture. The contribution of Charles Parker has already been 
mentioned. Some factories employed 40 or more hands. 

The expansion of the silver industry in the 50's and 60's was 
being duplicated on a somewhat lesser scale by other Meriden 
industries during the same period. It was a period of pioneering 
in new lines of goods and new methods for making them. 

Jedediah Wilcox was one of the manufacturers who seemed 
to be making rapid progress. Starting in 1848, with carpetbags 
as his first product, he founded J. Wilcox & Co. in 1853, and 
began making leather belts. He was his own salesman, and soon 
managed to run up his gross sales to $300,000 a year. Hoop skirts 
and corsets were added to the line. The factory, at the corner 
of Pratt and Camp Streets, employed more than 500 hands in 
1860. In 1865, just as business was pouring in, the factory was 
destroyed by fire. It was replaced with a new brick structure on 
the other side of Pratt Street. About this time, Jedediah's interests 
turned from woollen goods to silver. On Dec. 23, 1865, with his 
brother Horace, Charles Parker, Aaron Collins, Hezekiah Miller 
and others, he established the Wicox Silver Plate Company for the 
manufacture of holloware. The company was installed in the 
plant where woollen goods had been made. 

Another Meriden concern which had its beginnings in the 
same period took root and grew so flourishingly that it survived 
all the vicissitudes which forced some other local plants to wither 
and fade before the century ran out. Edward Miller & Co. was 
incorporated in 1866, with a capital of $200,000, with Edward 
Miller as president, F. J. Seymour as secretary and W. H. Perkins 
as treasurer. The first products were lamp trimmings, for oil, 

86 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

fluid, and kerosene lamps, together with numerous articles of 
brass, copper, German silver, iron, and britannia. 

Edward Miller, who had begun his career in the 40's making 
candlestick springs, using foot and horse-power, was on the road 
to becoming one of the city's foremost manufacturers. His 
company went through every stage in the evolution of lighting 
equipment, from the earliest types of oil lamps to the most modern 
systems of fluorescent illumination in use today. With the advent 
of electricity as a lighting source, it turned to the manufacture 
of electric lamps, and the business has never ceased to progress 
with the changing times. The later history of the company will 
be considered in another chapter. 

Foster, Merriam & Co., incorporated in 1866, is only a memory 
today, although it survived for more than 30 years of the next 
century. John SutlifT was president, when the corporation began, 
and Albert Foster was secretary and treasurer. The original 
product was furniture casters. The company employed 60 
persons about 1870. It was the outgrowth of a business which 
dated back to 1835. 

Foster Merriam sold out the caster business in 1927. In 1914, 
the company had been reorganized with a new group of men over 
its operation. A further reorganization followed in 1926. In 1933, 
part of the plant was destroyed by fire. J. B. Coggins bought the 
remaining buildings in 1940. The business today is operated by 
the J. B. Coggins Mfg. Company, with J. Blaine Coggins as 
president. His son, Leslie Coggins, is associated with him as vice 
president of the firm. 

In 1849, a year which might be designated as opening the first 
period of rapid industrial growth here, there were 35 principal 
manufacturers, employing approximately 540 hands. 

The stage was being set for greater enterprise when Horace 
C. Wilcox took to the road with the Yankee peddlars. He was 
an energetic young man with a keen eye for business, which he 
kept open for saleable lines of merchandise to add to the stocks 
on his neat wagon. Born in Westfield Parish, Middletown, in 
1824, he had tired early of the life of the farm, and decided to 
undertake selling peddlar's wares. His brother Dennis had similar 
inclinations, and had done some peddling of tin between farm 
crops before Horace owned his first wagon. The two brothers 
were to become super-salesmen, and they never lost the touch of 

87 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

master salesmanship even after many years of service as executives 
of the industry they helped to found. 

While still a peddlar, Horace became acquainted with the 
Rogers brothers of Hartford, who had developed a new process 
for the plating of silver. They imported German silver spoons 
and forks which they were able to coat with pure silver. These 
were most attractive articles for the peddlars' markets, and Horace 
added a stock of them to his line, finding that they sold well. 
They helped the Wilcox brothers to accumulate the capital to 
participate in the founding of a new local enterprise. 

This enterprise was the Meriden Britannia Company, organized 
in 1852 by Horace C. Wilcox, Dennis C. Wilcox, Isaac C. Lewis, 
William W. Lyman, Lemuel J. Curtis, John Munson, and James 
A. Frary. The next year, Samuel Simpson of Wallingford entered 
the group as an associate. The idea behind the project was to 
produce a more practical and economical plan for selling the 
products of the various shops. Horace and Dennis, with their 
practical experience in selling, had much more to contribute than 
their small stake of capital. 

The first office and warerooms were in a building owned by 
Horace C. Wilcox. It stood at the corner of West Main and South 
Colony Streets. 

The office was under the supervision of Horace and Dennis 
Wilcox and Isaac C. Lewis, and the entire business was directed 
from this headquarters. 

West of the building, where the Palace Block now stands, was 
the residence of Horace C. Wilcox. His son, George H. Wilcox, 
who was to rise to the presidency of the industry which developed 
from these beginnings, was born in this house a few years after 
the Aieriden Britannia Company was founded. 

Soon after the company began business, it started experimenting 
with the process which the Rogers brothers in Hartford had 
proved practicable. These experiments were conducted in a 
building previously used as a barn. It was located on Hanover 
Street, just south of the Wilcox residence. 

A short time later, the company erected its first buildings for 
finishing, assembling, and plating on the southeast corner of State 
and Miller Streets. This plant was in operation by 1855. But until 
the early sixties most of the actual manufacturing of britannia 
holloware was conducted in the small, individual plants which had 

88 



INDUSTRY OF THE 1°TH CENTURY 

been taken over in 1852. 

In its first full year of operations, Meriden Britannia sold wares 
made by its own plants and purchased from the other manuf ac- 
. turers amounting to more than $250,000 gross. 

By 1862, the Rogers brothers of Hartford were in financial 
difficulties, and the Meriden Britannia Company bought their 
equipment, including tools and dies, and moved all of this material 
to Meriden. An arrangement was made with William, Asa, and 
Simeon Rogers whereby they were to direct and supervise the 
manufacture of 1847 Rogers Bros, silverplate in Meriden. Thus 
one of the most famous brand names of American industry 
became identified with this city. 

The Civil War had begun, but war did not stay the progress 
of the organization which had just passed its first decade. It 
needed more manufacturing space and equipment. On July 1, 
1863, ground was broken on the west side of State Street for the 
first brick building. Soon, other large additions were made, 
including a building to house the power plant, and a factory 
chimney which was to stand for more than three-quarters of a 
century. 

People were begining to call the State Street plant the u Big 
Shop," a name which is heard to this day. But there was still more 
than a trace of the primitive in the character of its trade. Many 
miscellaneous items were carried in the line, including japanned 
tinware. Britannia shipments were made in exchange for fur, 
feathers, or cordwood. In 1858, the company sold $32,408 worth 
of Lyman patent fruit jars. Another popular item was the sewing 
bird for home seamstresses, of which $30,000 worth were sold 
in 1853. 

By 1860, the company employed 320 hands and produced half 
a million dollars worth of plated wares annually. Agencies had 
been opened in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco and 
products were being shipped overseas. 

By this time, the general office of the company was adjacent 
to the doorway, still in existence, almost opposite Miller Street. 
Isaac C. Lewis and George R. Curtis occupied this office until 1 866 
when a one-story office building was constructed at the south 
end of the plant. It was raised to four stories in 1 899. An additional 
section was built in 1876 for the use of executives and directors of 
the company. 

89 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

In 1877, the business of Rogers, Smith & Co. of New Haven, 
which the company owned, was moved here into a new building 
erected for it on State Street. 

The selling ability of Horace and Dennis Wilcox proved 
fruitful for the company from the beginning. Both men, with 
James D. Frary, made frequent sales trips and arranged for the 
establishment of the various branches in large cities. 

Meanwhile, the company's wares were winning favorable 
attention wherever they were displayed. At the Centennial in 
Philadelphia in 1876, in New Orleans in 1885, in Paris at the 
Universal Exposition in 1889, and at the Columbian Exposition in 
Chicago in 1893, they received high awards. 

In 1869, Parker & Casper Co., a small local concern, was pur- 
chased and consolidated with the Wilcox Silver Plate Company. 
Samuel Dodd was secretary and treasurer, and remained in that 
capacity until the International Silver Company was organized 
in 1898. 

Isaac C. Lewis, who had been president of the Meriden 
Britannia Company from the beginning, as well as its general 
superintendent, retired from both positions in 1866. He was a 
quiet gentleman of many accomplishments, who made a deep 
imprint upon Meriden affairs. He served as mayor for three years, 
and as a representative in the legislature four times in the last 
century. Horace C. Wilcox was elected to succeed him in the 
company and Dennis Wilcox became secretary. 

Since acquiring the Rogers Bros, trademark, sales had risen 
rapidly, reaching a volume of $2,500,000 annually by 1878. To 
care for the growing volume of business, a factory was erected 
in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1879, and placed under the management 
of J. H. Parker, formerly associated with various Meriden 
industries. 

George R. Curtis, treasurer of Meriden Britannia, and a director 
of the Wilcox Silver Plate Company, was another leader in 
company affairs and a community leader as well. He became 
president of the Meriden Horse Railroad and of the Meriden Gas 
Light Company, a director of the Home National Bank, and 
served as alderman and councilman in the period between the 
70's and the 90's. His son, George M. Curtis, began as a clerk 
with Meriden Britannia and rose to become a director of the 
company. He was a director also of the Home Bank and the 

90 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

Curtis Library, which was presented to the city by Mrs. Augusta 
Munson Curtis. 

Horace C. Wilcox was president of Meriden Britannia from 
1866 to 1889. He died in 1890. During his fruitful career, he was 
also president of the Wilcox & White Organ Company. His 
interest in the short line railways absorbed much of his time and 
capital in his late years. He was Meriden's fifth mayor, and served 
in the State Senate in 1877. 

Prior to the formation of the International Silver Company, the 
lines of the Meriden Britannia Company and the other local 
silverplate company had already become the most important in 
the entire silverware industry. In 1898, 13 independent companies, 
not including those in Canada, were consolidated. The next year, 
four were added, and several more in the years that followed. The 
names of the companies participating in the consolidation into the 
International were the Meriden Britannia Company, including 
Hall, Elton & Co.; Rogers, Smith & Co.; Forbes Silver Co.; Wilcox 
& Evertsen; Rogers & Bro.; Middletown Plate Co.; Wm. Rogers 
Mfg. Co.; Wilcox Silver Plate Co., including Parker & Casper Co.; 
Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co.; Simpson Nickel Co.; Meriden Silver 
Plate Co.; Rogers Cutlery Co.; Derby Silver Co.; Manhattan Silver 
Plate Co.; Holmes & Edwards Silver Co.; Barbour Silver Co., 
including Hartford Silver Plate Co.; Rogers & Hamilton Co. 
Norwich Cutlery Co.; Watrous Mfg. Co.; C. Rogers & Bros. 
LaPierre Mfg. Co.; E. G. Webster & Son; American Silver Co. 
Rowley Mfg. Co.; Southington Cutlery Co., silverware depart- 
ment; Silver City Plate Co. 

Many of these concerns operating separate factories were 
shortly combined or consolidated with others, and a new cutlery 
plant was established in Northampton, Mass. 

With the incorporation of the International Silver Company 
in 1898, the following officers were elected: Samuel Dodd 
president; George H. Wilcox, first vice president; George C. 
Edwards, second vice president; C. A. Hamilton, third vice presi- 
dent; Samuel Thomas, treasurer; George M. Curtis, assistant 
treasurer; George Rockwell, secretary. Directors were: Samuel 
L. Barbour, George M. Curtis, Samuel Dodd, George C. Edwards, 
C. A. Hamilton, H. J. Lewis, G. D. Munson, Edwin M. Post, 
George Rockwell, E. R. Thomas, O. F. Thomas, W. H. Watrous, 
Frederick P. Wilcox, George H. Wilcox. 

91 



INDUSTRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY 

Most of the directors were actively engaged in the business. 
Only five of them had no active part in its operations. 

On the list will be recognized the names of men whose descen- 
dants have continued to play an important part in the affairs of 
the company to this day. 

By 1890, Maltby, Stevens & Curtiss Co., headed by Elizur 
Seneca Stevens, Chapman iMaltby and John Curtiss, were making 
silverware in Wallingford in a plant built by Hall, Elton & Co. 
Their output was silverplated by Wm. Rogers Mfg. Co. of 
Hartford. Through this association, George D. Munson, a long- 
time employee of W. H. Watrous and member of an old 
Wallingford family, was brought into the new company. After 
its affiliation, the Wallingford plant became Factory P. The 
factory of Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co., makers of Rogers Brand 
silverware, was also acquired, and this plant became the center 
for the manufacture of sterling silverware. 

The further progress of the company, chronologically, belongs 
in the industrial history of Meriden during the twentieth century. 

i i i 

The Curtiss Way Company, large edition printers, was formed 
by the late James A. Curtiss and William H. Way in 1899. The 
late Roy J. Warren was president from 1915 until 1942. The 
business was sold in 1942 to the Eastern Color Printing Company 
of Waterbury, which retained the Pratt Street plant and erected 
a new bindery on Gracey Avenue. 

The Meriden Gravure Company, which specializes in full-tone 
picture reproductions, was established in 1888 by the late J. F. 
Allen. It has won national prominence by its illustrations for fine 
books. The firm is still in the control of the Allen family. E. H. 
Hugo is vice president and general manager. 

The Journal Press was established in 1886 by The Journal 
Publishing Company, and was sold in 1918 to the Connecticut 
Calendar Company. Until 1956, the firm occupied quarters in the 
Journal's old mechanical plant, which has been torn down. It 
now occupies a new plant on South Broad Street. The business is 
operated by Charles G. Dossin. 

The Hull Printing Company was established in 1891 at 134 
Hanover Street by the late Charles C. Hull, and has been owned 
and operated for many years by his son, Charles C. Hull, Jr., who 
erected the present plant at 35 Meridian Street. 

92 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 



The Civil War 



The expanding Meriden of the middle of the last century had 
opened Southern markets for local products through the trips of 
its enterprising peddlars into the South. These lively but 
thoroughly respectable vendors were the forerunners of the 
traveling salesmen and manufacturers' representatives who carried 
the story of Meriden to all parts of the country in later eras. 
Although they operated from wagons and did business along 
country lanes, they built up a surprisingly large volume of trade. 
They were an important link in the somewhat feeble line of 
communications between North and South, for they acted as 
unofficial roving ambassadors carrying portfolios of good will — 
but they could do little to quiet the seething controversies of 
the times. 

Meriden stood on the side of the Union and against the con- 
tention that rights of the individual states should outweigh the 
principles on which the Union was founded. Meriden was strongly 
opposed to the institution of slavery. Manufacturers and other 
business interests here were quite capable of sacrificing trade to 
uphold their opinions on these issues. They expressed themselves 
vehemently as the debate gathered and spread. 

But there were some in Connecticut who thought differently, 
and who proposed to hold a convention to issue resolutions 
favorable to the Southern cause. One representative of this group 
called upon Julius Pratt, well known local comb manufacturer, 
urging him to sign the call for the meeting. Mr. Pratt not only 
refused to sign; after listening to the arguments that it was to 
his interests to do so, he spoke up sharply. "If the people of the 
South do not want to buy our Meriden combs because of what 
we think, then let them go lousy." 

A country lawyer named Abraham Lincoln was a rising figure 
in the middle west, but Meriden knew little of him until the 
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 brought his name into promi- 
nence, and even then the interest in him here was slight. 

When Abraham Lincoln came to Meriden March 7, 1860 to 

93 



THE CIVIL WAR 

address a Republican rally in the town hall, few would have been 
willing to concede that he had any chance for the presidency. 
Although he had been mentioned as a possibility for the Repub- 
lican nomination, his real strength was unsuspected. The famous 
Cooper Union address had been delivered February 27, but its 
effects had hardly begun to accumulate. He had spoken in New 
Haven the day he came here, repeating some of the sentiments 
he had uttered at Cooper Union, but there is no record of what 
he said at the town hall. The only local newspaper of the day 
was the Meriden Banner, a Democratic weekly published by A. B. 
Stillman. It did not print the text or even excerpts from Lincoln's 
address, but gave its own interpretation of his remarks. For 
example, this passage: "The speaker, on being introduced to the 
audience, commenced the exordium of a tediously dull and 
uninteresting speech. It was commonplace in the extreme, and the 
principles (or ideas) he labored to enforce were narrow, bigoted 
and fallacious, directly antagonistic to the legislative action and 
official decisions of the government from its inception down to 
the present time." 

There were few flourishes in connection with Lincoln's 
reception, but a quartet sang during the intervals of the program. 
Its members were Arthur Alfred Barker, partner in the clothing 
firm of Barker & Finnegan, E. B. Everitt, agent of the Wilcox 
Realty Company, and William K. Butler and Elisha K. Bradley, 
both of whom left iMeriden years later to reside in Hartford. 

The event was commemorated 88 years later, when a Lincoln 
plaque, designed by Louis Gudebrod, local sculptor, was placed 
on the city hall. This memorial was dedicated May 30, 1948, 
when it was presented to Mayor Howard E. Houston, repre- 
senting the city, by Francis C. Upham, representing the Lincoln 
Memorial Committee. Mr. Upham is a son of Col. Charles L. 
Upham, one of Meriden's outstanding soldiers in the war which 
was to follow Lincoln's visit here by only 13 months. 

On March 4, 1861, Lincoln was inaugurated as President. The 
war clouds were gathering fast and spreading over Meriden as 
they spread elsewhere. The Confederate States cf America had 
been formed at Montgomery, Alabama, early in February, and 
Jefferson Davis had been chosen president of the Confederacy. 
The first incident of war occurred when Fort Sumter was 
attacked on April 12, and the immediate effect was the President's 

94 



THE CIVIL WAR 

call for 75,000 volunteers a to repossess the forts, places and 
property which has been seized, and to maintain the perpetuity 
of popular government." By that signal, Connecticut was drawn 
into the struggle beside the other loyal states of the Union, and 
Meriden began preparing at once to do its part. 

On April 16, Governor Buckingham called for volunteers to 
form one regiment of infantry to serve three months. The 
Meriden Light Guards, under Capt. Theodore Byxbee, was the 
only military organization in Meriden. The morning after the 
governor's proclamation was issued, Capt. Byxbee reported to 
the adjutant general in Hartford that the organization was ready 
to respond to the call. 

A war meeting was held in the town hall on April 19. The 
Hon. Charles Parker, who was to become the first mayor of the 
incorporated city only eight years later, presided over the 
meeting. Patriotic speeches were made by Orville H. Piatt, Dexter 
R. Wright, the Rev. D. Henry Miller, and G. H. Wilson. It was 
unanimously voted to instruct the selectmen to call a town 
meeting immediately for the purpose of appropriating $5,000 to 
equip the Meriden Light Guard. Mr. Parker, according to the 
Century of Meriden, "announced his purpose to give each member 
a Colt's revolver." 

The $5,000 was voted in due course, with part of the money 
to be devoted, if necessary, to supporting the families of the 
volunteers. Isaac C. Lewis, John Parker, Humphrey Lyon, and 
Moses Waterman were named as a committee to supervise the 
expenditure of the funds. 

The Light Guard was required to reorganize as a company of 
volunteers and was mustered into the state service on April 22, 
1861. It was assigned to the First Regiment, Connecticut Volun- 
teers, as Company F, and left for Washington May 10, the first 
body of men from Meriden to enter the struggle. 

A second company to serve three months went into rendezvous 
April 29, and was assigned to the Third Regiment as Rifle 
Company B. It departed May 23. These Meriden companies were 
in Keyes' Brigade, Tyler's Division. They met the rebels at Bull 
Run, showing great gallantry. Upon their return to Meriden after 
serving out the term of their enlistment, a grand parade and ball 
were held to mark their homecoming. 

In the summer of 1861, another company was formed, and 

95 



THE CIVIL WAR 

assigned to the Seventh Regiment as Company C. This company 
was in the expedition to Port Royal, was the first to land, with 
its flags first on the soil of South Carolina. 

Company K of the Eighth Regiment was recruited late in the 
summer of 1861. It left the state October 17, and became part of 
the Burnside Expedition. From North Carolina, it was sent to 
reinforce the Army of the Potomac when Lee invaded Maryland. 
At the battle of Antietam, these volunteers advanced farther than 
any other Union forces in their part of the field. Their losses 
exceeded 50 per cent. 

Company B of the Ninth Regiment was composed of Meriden 
residents of Irish descent. It left the state November 4 for Lowell, 
iMass., and was sent from there to Ship Island, Mississippi Sound. 
It served with credit in the Department of the Gulf until 1864. 
It was then sent to Bermuda Hundred and, in August 1864, to 
Sheridan's Army in the Shenandoah Valley. It took part in the 
battle of Cedar Creek, and was finally mustered out of service on 
August 3, 1865. 

Companies A and F of the 15th Regiment were organized 
during August 1862. While in camp August 25, women of 
Meriden, represented by the Misses Helen Bradley and Mary 
Brooks, presented the company with a silk flag, and Orville Piatt 
made the address of presentation. Col. Wright of the regiment 
responded. To him a black stallion was presented by a group of 
Meriden men, represented by the Hon. Charles Parker. 

The regiment participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, the 
siege of Suffolk and of Virginia by Longstreet, and in engage- 
ments in North Carolina. It lost many men during an epidemic 
of yellow fever and also lost severely in the actions before 
Kingston, N. C, in 1865. The regiment was mustered out at New 
Berne, N. C, and returned to New Haven July 4, 1865. 

Company G of the 27th Regiment enlisted for nine months 
and was mustered into service in October 1862. The regiment 
became part of the Army of the Potomac. Its members were 
actively engaged at the battles of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, 
and Gettysburg. They were composed only in part of Meriden 
men. The regiment was mustered out of service July 27, 1863. 

Due to transfers from one military unit to another, it is 
difficult to determine the exact number of men from Meriden 
who served at one time or another during the Civil War, but the 

96 



THE CIVIL WAR 

companies mentioned mustered 671. Meriden men connected with 
other units of the armed service numbered 286, omitting substi- 
tutes who deserted. 

According to Davis' History of Wallingford, Meriden and 
Cheshire, published 1870, 108 Meriden soldiers lost their lives 
in the struggle to preserve the Union. 

Many local soldiers won commissions, the records show. There 
were one general, three colonels, one lieutenant colonel, two 
majors, three chaplains, 14 captains, 16 first lieutenants, 19 second 
lieutenants. 

The losses, especially among those who served in the later 
phases of the war, were severe, and the strain upon Meriden to 
furnish recruits, in response to the ever-increasing demand, was 
severe also. 

To meet the demand, since service continued on a voluntary 
basis, various expedients were adopted. Paying bounties for 
volunteers became common practice, and Meriden town meetings 
again and again grappled with the problem of making such 
inducements sufficiently attractive. 

A town meeting held July 16, 1862 voted that the town of 
Meriden appropriate the sum of $50 bounty to be paid to each 
recruit enlisting in any Connecticut regiment then in the field, or 
in any subsequent regiment organized in the state in answer to 
the President's latest call for 300,000 men. Payments were also to 
be made to mothers and other dependents of such recruits, to 
supplement the payments from the state for the support of wives 
and children of volunteers. A town meeting on August 23, 1862 
increased the bounty to $100 for nine-month volunteers. 

There was still another problem for the town when Congress 
on March 3, 1863, approved "an act for enrolling and calling out 
the National forces and for other purposes," which meant that 
a draft was imminent. 

On August 24, 1863, a special town meeting took action to 
meet this situation. It voted that the selectmen be authorized to 
pay to each man who "may be hereafter drafted into the service 
of the United States" the sum of $300 when mustered in. It also 
voted to pay to any man drafted who could furnish an acceptable 
substitute to serve in his own place a sum not to exceed $300 when 
the substitute entered the service. This was an encouragement to 
a practice which had already become rather common, and which 

97 



THE CIVIL WAR 

seemed to carry no stigma, probably because there was still 
considerable opposition to service under compulsion. 

Another town meeting on August 11, 1864, passed a resolu- 
tion offered by the Hon. O. H. Piatt to appropriate $20,000 to 
encourage enlistments and pay the expenses of Meriden under the 
call for additional men. Up to $300 would be paid for a three-year 
enlistment. Only two weeks later, a town meeting raised the 
inducement to $600 for a three-year enlistment, and $300 for a 
less period, the extra money to be raised by subscription. The 
four banks of the town were requested to loan in equal amounts, 
temporarily, the funds to put the resolutions into effect. 

But the war was drawing to an end. If the practice of offering 
bounties had continued much longer, Meriden might have 
bankrupted itself. The surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox 
on April 9, 1865 put an end to the fighting, and there was no 
longer reason to pledge the town's funds to gain new soldiers. 
Instead, the town could turn to the problems incident to the 
resumption of normal ways of life. 

Many of the Civil War veterans were to become outstanding 
citizens of their generation. In the days ahead, they were to help 
promote Aieriden's economic well-being, to become active in 
every form of business and professional life and to assist in turning 
the town into an incorporated city. That event was only two 
years in the future. 



98 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 



City Government Before 1900 

Between 1840 and 1850, the leisurely little village of Meriden 
was being taught to recognize some of its prospects for future 
growth through the advancement of its industries. In the 50's, the 
pace swiftened and the population practically doubled. The 
census of 1860 placed the figure at 7,426, which was to increase 
to 10,495 by 1870. 

In 1866, with the Civil War in the background, the first efforts 
to obtain a city charter were made. It was argued that, under a 
charter, the community could have water works, street lights, 
police and fire departments, and a program of street improvement. 

For the first time, there was a sense of integration in the local 
community, inspired in part by the veterans who had returned 
from the war with restless energies that sought an outlet in civic 
advancement. They banded with older leaders to improve con- 
ditions here. 

On June 7, 1867, Charles Parker and 644 other local residents 
signed the petition for a charter, which was presented to the 
General Assembly for approval. The Legislature granted the 
charter only a little more than a month later. 

The new city had an area of four square miles, and the list of 
taxable property was $4,415,000. 

A rather complex system of local government was installed at 
the beginning. The city then consisted roughly of what is now 
the second taxing district lying within the town, and the town 
itself was divided into school districts, each governed by a district 
committee which levied and collected its own school taxes. This 
condition existed until July 1896, when the school districts were 
consolidated. But consolidation of the city and the town did not 
take place until January 1, 1922, after a long battle to be recorded 
later. 

The city government at first consisted of four aldermen and 
16 councilmen forming the common council. At first, there 
were only four wards, but later a fifth was added. In June 1924, 
the fifth ward was divided into two districts. In June 1927, the 

99 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

second and third wards were similarly divided, and in 1941 the 
fourth ward was also split into two parts, leaving the first ward 
the only one with a single voting place. 

The new city government began at once to make city bylaws, 
but these were not printed until 1870 together with certain 
amendments to the charter to give the authority needed. The only 
known record of this action is preserved in the Curtis Memorial 
Library. A copy printed in 1875 is filed in the office of the city 
clerk. There are no known copies of the original charter in 
existence, although the common council ordered that 100 copies 
be published. The charter has been frequently amended and was 
reprinted in 1900. Another revision was printed in 1931. The 
bylaws have been reprinted, but no new edition of the charter 
has appeared since 1931. 

Charles Parker, the stalwart pioneer of local industry, entered 
a new phase of his career as Meriden's first mayor. For him, 782 
votes were cast in the first election against 17 "scattering." John 
H. Bario, afterward colonel of the Second Regiment, Connecticut 
National Guard, was elected city clerk with 808 votes in his 
favor, and only three "scattering." The other city officials elected 
were Asahel H. Curtis, treasurer; Joel H. Guy, auditor; Samuel 
O. Church, collector; Patrick Garvey and James E. Belden, city 
sheriffs. The aldermen elected were William J. Ives, Hiram Butler, 
George W. Lyon, and Jedediah Wilcox. Councilmen were O. B. 
Arnold, Lemuel J. Curtis, Charles L. Upham, Charles A. Roberts, 
Eli Butler, Eli Ives, Hezekiah H. Miller, Augustus C. Markham, 
Aaron L. Collins, Isaac C. Lewis, Jared R. Cook, Horace C. 
Wilcox, Dennis C. Wilcox, John Byxbee, Walter Hubbard, and 
Jared Lewis. 

Local manufactures and other forms of business were well 
represented in the governing group, which contained a liberal 
sprinkling of veterans as well. 

There was much to be done, and the new city government 
lost no time in going into action. 

One of the first necessities was for the provision of an adequate 
water supply system. For this, an amendment to the new charter 
was found necessary. It was approved July 24, 1868. But long 
before that date a controversy had arisen over reservoir locations. 
Mayor Parker on April 6, 1868 appointed a committee to search 
out and recommend sites. The relative merits of West Mountain 

100 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

and Black Pond were debated vigorously. 

Meriden had suffered frequent water famines, and pumping 
had to be done from outlying ponds. The problem of recurring 
water scarcity was not to be solved overnight, even after it had 
been approached in a concentrated and orderly manner. The 
West Mountain location was approved, and in June 1869 a bond 
issue of $20,000 at 7 per cent was authorized. Construction of 
Merimere, the first reservoir, was begun. By 1873, it was reported 
that 1,554 families were being served with water through the pipes 
of the new system. In 1890, Kenmere reservoir was added, and 
Hallmere came next in 1895. In 1905, the Taylor farm of 96 acres 
was purchased for additional watershed. A further important step 
was taken in 1907, when the city bought the Fellows farm on 
Johnson Hill for a storage reservoir, but the storage basin was 
not completed, with pumping facilities, until 1913. In the follow- 
ing year, pipes were connected with Kenmere, and the new 
set-up was ready for service. It has served satisfactorily since that 
time, with certain changes and improvements as water demands 
increased. But the largest single water source to supply Meriden 
had already been made available to form a link in the system. 

On February 1, 1909, the Broad Brook property of 23 acres 
was purchased for $5,000, a bargain if there ever was one. The 
city appropriated $350,000 in 1913 for the development of this 
reservoir, which was placed in service October 2, 1916. A 
filtration plant was added at Broad Brook in 1927. A new pumping 
station was built at Kenmere in 1931. 

Meanwhile, the growth of the city was making constantly 
increasing demands upon the water system. Insufficient water 
pressure on the east side was an almost constant complaint in dry 
seasons. Taking advantage of the plentiful labor to be obtained 
at low cost, with government aid, during the depression, a 
pumping station was built under WPA at the corner of Charles 
Street and Parker Avenue for the low figure of $6,205. This 
proved only a partial solution to the problem. 

Residents on the high hills of the eastern section continued to 
complain of low pressure, especially during the summer months. 
During the administrations of Mayor Francis R. Danaher, a 
remedy was proposed in the form of a "Memorial" water tower, 
from which water could be fed by gravity to the east side. But 
nothing was done to place this measure in effect. Subsequently, 

101 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

it was discovered that water pipes of small diameters were 
impeding the flow of water. The system was overhauled at many 
points to replace the pipe of old mains with pipe of larger 
diameter. Even earlier, the work of pipe laying had not been 
neglected. Under FERA, 9,655 feet of pipe were laid, and WPA 
installed 8,438 feet. In 1933, 13,378 feet of water pipe went under 
the ground, water sheds were cleared, and much of the system 
was practically rebuilt. But there has been no let-up in the 
demands for more water, and the future has to be considered. 

Under iMayor Henry Altobello, the problem has been inten- 
sively studied by state and city engineers, and an independent 
firm has been engaged to make a survey. The full results of that 
survey are still to be made known, and action awaits the final 
recommendations of the engineers. But one measure has been 
advocated repeatedly under the present administration: the con- 
struction of a storage basin on the summit of one of the eastern 
hills. The use of Black Pond water, to be fed by way of New 
Dam, with a hook-up to Foster Lake could keep such a basin 
filled, it has been argued. Measurements of the water potentials 
of these sources has been made. But active steps to set the project 
in motion have not been taken up to the time of this writing. 

Many years have been spanned in this consideration of the 
water system. But many other phases of the city's development 
began in that period when Mayor Parker and his official family 
were wrestling with the beginning problems of city government. 

Fire protection was afforded on a haphazard basis by the old 
volunteer companies, who fought fires vigorously, but were more 
concerned in competing with one another than with quenching 
a blaze under competent direction. Police protection was lacking, 
also. Unpaved streets became seas of mud after every heavy rain. 
The few sidewalks were crude, and afforded uncertain footing. 
Street lights were missing altogether. There was no system of 
sewers. The cesspool was only a short distance from the well in 
many yards. All of these conditions called for immediate correc- 
tion, but progress toward correcting them was slow. Mayor 
Parker could only make a start. 

Police Department 

To police Meriden in its earliest days as a city, a new department 
was created in September, 1868, when the common council, with 

102 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

Mayor Parker presiding, voted to replace the constabulary with 
a permanent and regularly paid force. The department consisted 
officially of a chief and three patrolmen. William Hagadon was 
the first chief, and under him were Roger M. Ford, George Van 
Nostrand and Samuel N. Beach. Beach succeeded Hagadon the 
first year, and served until 1876. Other chiefs in order, during the 
remainder of the century, were Albert I. Otis, Frank G. Bolles, 
Roger M. Ford, and Captain George Van Nostrand, who had 
been with the department from the beginning, and continued as 
its head until 1906, shortly before Meriden celebrated its 
Centennial. 

The department had no headquarters when it started. The 
lockup was in the basement of the town hall, and was a planked-in 
enclosure. The chief was on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the 
patrolmen served from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., an arrangement of shifts 
which could only provide the most desultory police protection. 
But there were no large traffic problems to be dealt with, and 
serious crimes occurred infrequently. At the beginning, the men 
wore badges but had no uniforms. The most distinguishing 
article of their dress was the large hat, with flaring brim upturned 
at the side. Each man carried a club, a revolver, and "twisters" 
of catgut and wood, used in place of handcuffs. The chief 
received $2.75 a day and the men $2.50. In 1869, soon after Chief 
Beach's appointment, the department was quartered in a city- 
owned building on Pratt Street, where the fire department was 
also stationed. In 1883, it was moved into a room in the Rogers 
Block, at East Main and South Colony Streets. Four years later, 
headquarters was established in the remodeled town hall. 

The Gamewell signal system, by which patrolmen on beat were 
able to make contact with headquarters periodically, was installed 
in 1890, and was considered a great advance in police methods. 
The plodding policeman on his beat was the mainstay of the 
force, but the limit of his speed in pursuing criminals was the 
limit of his running ability. A few horses and wagons helped to 
raise the limit as time went on, but it was not until much later 
that automobiles were employed. Of course, the crooks of the 
last century were equally handicapped in the matter of going 
places in a hurry, and some Meriden policemen came to be known 
as fast runners. 



103 



city government before 1900 

Fire Department 

The organization of a fire department was delayed for a number 
of years after the incorporation of the city. The event which 
spurred its creation was the great Meriden Britannia Company 
fire which broke out early in the morning of July 16, 1870. Plans 
had been made for a convocation of volunteer fire companies on 
that day, and local citizen-firemen had met the preceding evening 
to make plans for receiving visiting firemen from Middletown. 
The first sack and bucket brigade, organized in 1849, was still 
going strong, but more as a social body than a group of serious 
fire fighters. Many other outfits of a similar nature had sprung 
up during the years. Active in 1867 were the Washington Engine 
Co. No. 2, Washington Hose Co. No. 2, the E. J. Doolittle Truck 
Co., Parker's Engine Co. No. 3 and Parker's Hose Co. No. 3. All 
of these had crude equipment, with pumps operated by hand. 
These were connected with wells, streams, or ponds until the 
installation of the water system made it possible for them to draw 
water from city mains. 

The "Big Shop" fire was first noticed shortly after 1 a.m. by 
the pressroom foreman of the Daily Republican, which was 
already being run off the press. He and the editor rushed toward 
State Street, where smoke had already begun to billow. The 
engine of a southbound train, just drawing into the station, let 
off its whistle in long blasts and a gong sounded somewhere within 
the burning plant. Aleriden's volunteers came running, dragging 
their feeble engines, and from that time on it was a wild scramble 
in which the rival companies were all engaged until the police had 
to break it up. At first more water was poured by the firemen 
on themselves than on the fire. Then the pumps of Meriden 
Britannia went into action, but by that time it was too late. The 
blaze was finally under control at about 6 a.m., but the plant was 
wrecked. The damage to building and machinery was estimated 
at $250,000, most of it covered by insurance. Meriden had never 
seen a fire of such proportions, and the lesson was not to be 
ignored. 

The confusion displayed by the well meaning but undisciplined 
volunteers on this occasion moved the Meriden Literary Recorder 
to comment, "If there had been any head or tail to the fire depart- 
ment, if John Byxbee or Charlie Warner had been chief engineer, 

104 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

the fire would have been extinguished." 

The words were prophetic, for John C. Byxbee became chief 
engineer when a paid fire department was installed in 1873. He 
received $500 a year, and was chief for two years. Edward A. 
Roark succeeded him. Other chiefs of the century's last quarter 
included Linus Moses, John F. Butler, Isaac B. Hyatt, Owen 
Horan and John Tracy. Tracy, who became chief in 1893, 
introduced white rubber coats and hats for the men of the 
department to distinguish them in the groups that always gathered 
at fires. The first horses to be used for drawing apparatus were 
stabled at the Charter Oak fire house. Hyatt was the only chief 
to serve twice. After resigning in 1888, he came back to the 
department in 1890, and was reappointed chief after a turn of the 
city administration in 1894. 

Frank L. Cowing was made chief shortly before 1900 and 
served until his death in 1903. William L. Lucas, who had grown 
up with the department, succeeded him. By 1906, Meriden had a 
department consisting of 91 men. There were 16 fire horses to 
pull the heavy equipment, and 9,000 feet of hose. The apparatus 
then consisted of one hook-and-ladder truck, one Silsby steam 
fire engine, four hose wagons, and the chief's wagon. One two- 
wheeled hose pumper was held in reserve. The total property was 
valued at $100,000. There were few changes in this picture until 
the introduction of motorized apparatus and the beginning of a 
whole new era in the development of more effective fire-fighting 
methods. But the fire companies, since the humiliating lessons of 
the Meriden Britannia fire, have always done well. Chief Byxbee, 
when he took charge, instituted the ward system of fire alarms. 
The Britannia Shop's big gong sounded one, two, three or four 
times to indicate in which of the four divisions the fire was 
located. In 1881, a fire-alarm telegraph system was introduced. 
St. Andrew's Church bell was used at first. Later a tower bell 
was installed at the old firehouse on Pratt Street. E. B. Baker, then 
manager of the Southern New England Telephone Company, was 
the first fire-alarm superintendent. 

Streets 

There were no paved streets in Meriden until the nineties. 
Photographs taken between 1870 and 1894 show the rutted, 
muddy or dusty surface of the principal thoroughfares even in 

105 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

the center of the city. In 1894, Belgian block paving was laid on 
West Main Street. The blocks were of creosoted wood, and were 
especially slippery in wet weather, but they were a great improve- 
ment over the gravel which had been used previously. The blue- 
stone blocks employed for crossings at intersections were re- 
moved. In 1897, Hanover Street was paved, and the next year 
the whole "Corner" section was macadamized. Colony Street was 
paved in 1899, partly with asphalt and partly with Belgian block. 
In 1901, paving was completed on State Street. For the East Main 
Street hill, brick paving was selected, which remained in place for 
many years. The trolley tracks in the center of the street, where 
they abutted the bricks, were traps for automobile wheels, and 
caused frequent skids. 

Paving bonds to the amount of $200,000 were authorized by 
the Legislature in 1913. State Street was widened in 1914 near its 
intersection with East Main Street. A permanent paving program 
was instituted at that time, and many streets where paving was 
badly worn, were repaved. Another extensive program was 
approved and carried out in 1931, when East and West Main 
Streets, Hanover, Pratt, State, and Crown Streets and Cook 
Avenue were completely resurfaced. For the next decade, most 
of the work on streets was done as part of WPA projects. In 1941, 
practically all that was left of the old brick paving was removed 
and replaced with composition paving. Rails left from the era 
of trolley street transportation were buried or taken away. 

A new road between Chesire and Meriden was opened in 1929. 
The Chamberlain Highway between Meriden and New Britain, 
named for former Gov. Abiram Chamberlain, a native of Meriden, 
was opened in 1935, and the Westfleld road was rebuilt the same 
year. In 1941, the construction of a four-lane parkway from 
North Broad Street to the Berlin line began. Eventually this route 
was widened all the way to Hartford. The Wilbur Cross Parkway, 
joining Route 5 into Hartford, was constructed during the 40's, 
and took the bulk of through passenger-car traffic away from 
Broad Street, although truck traffic continues to follow the old 
route where the stagecoaches once ran. Efforts to obtain state aid 
for the construction of an east- west by-pass of the city, to relieve 
the steadily increasing traffic congestion on East and West Main 
Streets, have so far been unavailing. The State Highway Depart- 
ment has refused to give this proposal priority in its program. 

106 



CITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE 1900 

Repeated efforts have been made to induce action by the Legisla- 
ture on the project, but all have fallen flat. 

Sewage Disposal 

No attempt was made at the time when the city was incorpor- 
ated to provide a municipal system of waste disposal. Not until 
20 years later was the first action taken in this direction. In 1887, 
the common council ordered the first sewers installed on Main and 
Veteran Streets, but the vote to establish a sewer system was 
recorded September 23, 1891. On November 13 of that year, the 
city bought 150 acres of land in South Meriden for sewer beds, 
and the contract to construct the beds was let May 26, 1892. 
These beds served, with little further improvement, until 
complaints were made in the 30's that the Quinnipiac River was 
being contaminated from underground seepage. In 1937, the 
present sewage reduction plant was built, and opened March 18, 
1938. The growth of Meriden since World War II has overtaxed 
the system of sewers. One of the questions now confronting the 
city is that of a complete overhauling of the system, and the 
construction of a new plant for final disposal. It is a question 
which calls for an answer in the near future. 



107 



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 



nvwvww 



The Spanish War 



The peaceful life of Meriden residents in the 90's was interrupted 
by the Spanish War, which began in 1898. The sinking of the 
U. S. battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, February 15, 1898, 
made banner headlines in newspapers across the country. Indigna- 
tion was almost universal, and the event was feverishly discussed 
in many Meriden homes. War sentiment gathered rapidly. 
President William McKinley demanded the withdrawal of Spain 
from Cuba. A blockade of Cuban ports was placed in effect on 
April 24. The next day, Congress declared that a state of war 
had existed since April 21. 

Company L, consisting of Meriden volunteers, was organized 
under Capt. Charles B. Bowen in the summer of 1898, with 
Delbert Jones as first lieutenant and Raymond Keeney as second 
lieutenant. It was assigned to the First Connecticut Regiment and 
mustered into service in July at the town hall. The company 
was then transferred to Fort Knox, Maine for training, and was 
sent from there to Niantic. It wound up in Camp Alger, Virginia, 
where the local volunteers remained until their return to 
Connecticut, where they were mustered out on October 31. 
Although not actually engaged in combat at any period of their 
service, the men of Company L underwent many trials, for 
conditions in military camps during the war were far from what 
they should have been. Rations were indescribably bad. Sanitary 
conditions were even worse. Many in the local company became 
ill, and some of them felt the after-effects for years. 

The Spanish War has been minimized in some accounts through 
comparison with some of the other conflicts in which this country 
has engaged, but it was serious enough for those who had a part 
in it. Followed by the Philippine insurrection, it lasted for four 
years and two months, compared with four years for the Civil 
War and one year and seven months for World War I. In it, 
450,000 of our troops were engaged, exceeding the number in the 
Revolutionary War, the Mexican War and the War of 1812. 
Losses in deaths from all causes were 4.3 per cent as compared 

108 



THE SPANISH WAR 

with six-tenths of one per cent for the Civil War. These statistics 
and others were furnished by Captain Charles B. Bowen Camp, 
United Spanish War Veterans when it held an anniversary 
observance April 25, 1936. 

Since the death of the last Meriden veteran of the Civil War, 
the Spanish War veterans are the senior group among all organi- 
zations of veterans, and wear their responsibilities with becoming 
vigilance and patriotic fervor in spite of their diminishing 
numbers. There has been no event in commemoration of Meriden's 
participation in the various wars in which these members of U. S. 
W. V. have not played an organizational and inspirational role. 

The Bowen Camp was organized in 1900, and became affiliated 
with the U. S. W. V. on April 18, 1904. The organizers were 
mainly men of Company L, but the group also included men who 
had served in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and China, as 
well as in the U. S. Navy and various camps in addition to Camp 
Alger. 

Mementoes of the Spanish War are in various parts of the city. 
A shell received from the War Department, as the result of efforts 
by the late Thomas L. Reilly, who was mayor of Meriden and 
later congressman and sheriff* of New Haven County, was placed 
in City Park. There also is a large granite stone with a nameplate 
in honor of Capt. Bowen. In the club room of the organization is 
a bronze tablet, made of metal taken from the wreckage of the 
battleship Maine. 

But the most striking memorial of the services of the Spanish 
War veterans is the Hiker Shaft on Memorial Boulevard, Broad 
Street. On November 13, 1940, Francis R. Danaher, then mayor, 
received a request from Past Commander Edward B. Hall, 
memorial chairman of the Bowen Camp, for $3,000 of city funds 
to be applied to the erection of this monument. Dr. Ernest W. 
Spicer, adjutant of the camp, supplied a list of 206 names to be 
inscribed upon it. The list was compiled by the late William G. 
Hiller. The monument consists of the bronze figure of an 
infantryman holding a rifle across his body. The figure is eight 
feet high, and stands on a Barre granite base. It was placed on the 
second green of the boulevard. 

When the Hiker Memorial was dedicated, November 23, 1941, 
the event was marked by a parade containing units of all veterans 
groups and sons and daughters of veterans, with ceremonies held 

109 



THE SPANISH WAR 

afterward when the monument was unveiled. At that time, 18 
members of Company L were alive, but the number has dwindled 
since. 

During World War II, on October 8, 1942, the Bo wen 
Camp contributed to the scrap drive then in progress one of its 
cherished mementoes, the cannon "Asaltador," which had helped 
to defend Morro Castle on Havana Harbor. 



110 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 



Street Railways 



While the battle of the "short lines" was moving toward a 
climax through the extension of interurban railroads set up to 
compete with the New Haven, Meriden was entering a new phase 
of transportation within the city limits. 

The street railway system began with the horse as its source 
of motive power. The Meriden Horse Railroad started operations 
in 1886, with lines along the principal streets of the city. The 
growth of population and the spread of local industry assured its 
success almost from the start. Horses, although slow, were reliable, 
and riding the cars was a great improvement on walking to and 
from work. For two years, the system did well — until the great 
fire of January 10, 1888. The Pratt Street barns, where the horses 
were stabled, burned to the ground with the loss of 79 horses, 
and total destruction of property valued at $43,000. 

This disaster did not put the road out of business, but it did 
result in its electrification. On February 26, 1888 the Daft system 
was adopted. Daft was an appropriate name for it, in view of the 
defects of its design. Two sets of small wheels ran on parallel 
overhead wires, the current from which was drawn through a 
pole attached to the roof of the car. These wheels were often 
dislodged, and the car's crew had to put them back into place. 
The jiggling poles were a strain on the car's roof, and leaks 
developed. In rainy weather, water poured down on the heads of 
passengers. The new system went into operation July 11, 1888, 
and the troubles began amost at once. After several months, the 
company decided it had had enough of Daft, and went back to 
horses. 

On September 17, 1892, John W. Coe and C. W. Cahill, both 
connected with the Swift packing interests, bought out the horse 
railroad. They owned it until October 18, 1893 when a Phila- 
delphia syndicate purchased it, and set plans in motion to electrify 
it. The electrification was successful. Overhead wires were used 
as before, and the current was carried through poles in the same 
manner, but the connection to the wires was firm, and the cars 

111 



STREET RAILWAYS 

proved reliable in service. Nine new cars were put into operation 
in January 1894. The horses were sold. One hundred of them 
went to one purchaser. 

A party of officials took the first trip over the line and attended 
a gala performance of "Pinafore" at the Meriden Opera House. 

The first accident to be recorded occurred January 6, 1894, at 
Wallace's bridge, when one of the cars hit a wagon, but the only 
damage was a broken axle on the wagon. 

The Meriden trolleys ran until 1932, when all street railway 
service was abandoned here, and the buses of the Connecticut 
Company took over the assignment of providing public transpor- 
tation within the city limits and to the suburbs. 

The trolley rails were removed in some places and covered over 
in others. The routes in service while the system was in full 
operation included Colony Street, Britannia Street and Griswold 
Street as far as Cambridge Street, with turn-outs opposite the 
Bradley Home, then the residence of Clarence P. Bradley, and 
near the center, about opposite Mosher's Drug Store; also the 
length of East and West Alain Streets, with cars running as far 
east as Pomeroy Avenue. A branch line served Curtis Street and 
adjacent streets. Another line ran up Pratt Street to Broad, and 
through cars followed the old route through Brookside Park, 
across Broad Street and on to Westfield. There was also electric 
car service on Hanover Street and to Hanover Park, which 
flourished as an amusement park through the first quarter of the 
century, although its heyday was probably in the "gay nineties." 



112 



CHAPTER NINETEEN 



Notes of a Spacious Era 

The three decades which closed the nineteenth century and the 
opening decade of the twentieth century were an era of spacious, 
leisured living. During these 40 years, plus a few extra for good 
measure, Meriden was growing up. A pattern of industrial growth 
had been established. The city was pushing ahead, but the pressure 
applied was easy and natural. It was the difference between 
shaking the reins over the old mare's back and cramming a heavy 
foot upon the accelerator that lets loose the power of 200 horses. 

There was probably never a time before or since when the 
average citizen could get so much fun out of life with a minimum 
of nervous strain. The so-called horse-and-buggy age was also an 
age of bicycles, open-sided trolley cars in summer, basket picnics 
for the whole family, band concerts, firemen's parades, special 
excursions on the railroads and the short lines, Turner festivals, 
Saengerbund conventions, and boating under the moon over 
Hanover Pond. 

There was roller skating at the iVIeriden rink on Hanover 
Street, near the corner of Randolph Avenue, with instruction for 
patrons who needed it, and music in the evenings. Exhibitions of 
speed and fancy skating were held weekly. Roller polo, a game 
for agile assassins, who banged at one another as much as at the 
puck, provided added excitement. Roller polo leagues were pro- 
moted for profit, and some of the individual stars gained a 
statewide reputation. It was a game as fast as hockey, but even 
rougher. Masquerade parties were also held at the rink. The 
German-American Society sponsored some of the largest of these 
events. 

From the 80's on, the carriage horse had a mechanical rival 
that brought individual transportation within the reach of almost 
everybody. It was the bicycle, which multiplied the possibilities 
of the leg muscles for getting from place to place. The bicycle, 
originally called a velocipede, had been designed as far back as 
1865. A velocipede, ridden by a Frenchman named Lillement, 
appeared in New Haven in 1871. The front wheel was enormous, 

113 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

but the back wheel was about the size of the wheel of a baby 
buggy, and it was all too easy to take a "header" over the handle- 
bars. Nevertheless, there were plenty of young men in Meriden 
willing to take a chance with one of these contraptions. 

Meriden came in early in this sport, largely because of the 
Meriden Wheel Club, organized December 18, 1880, when there 
were only about a dozen local citizens who had ever ridden a 
bicycle. At first the club met in the office of Dr. T. S. Rust, 
dentist, but in 1882 moved into quarters in the Palace Block, 
which it occupied until after its 25th anniversary, when the group 
was disbanded. 

The organization charged only 25 cents a year dues and gained 
a membership of about 200. It was the oldest and easily the most 
active of the wheel clubs of the state, exerting a powerful 
influence for legislation favorable to cyclists. Henry T. King, 
state representative, later to serve as Meriden's World War I 
mayor, was secretary. With J. E. Brainard, president of the club, 
he was instrumental in the organization of the Connecticut 
Federation of Cyclists. They took the lead in drawing up, intro- 
ducing, and supporting bills for the regulation of bicycle traffic 
and the improvement of roads for the benefit of bicycle riders, 
promoting the construction of graveled bicycle paths paralleling 
the main highways. Other outstanding members of the club were 
Dr. Rust, Max E. Miller, William Collins, Frank A. Stevens, 
Reuben J. Rice, Wells McMasters, Joseph Hyde, E. J. Pooley, 
Harry A. Stevens, Albert L. Stetson, John W. Lane, and C. Win 
King. 

The League of American Wheelmen held their national con- 
vention here one year in the old city hall that was destroyed by 
fire in 1904. 

The local pioneers of bicycling were soon joined by many 
others, both men and women. Introduction of the safety bicycle, 
with wheels of the same size, popularized the sport with women. 
When tandem bicycles came along, husband and wife, boy and 
girl friend could go far into the country on Sunday afternoons, 
with other companions or just as a twosome. The more zealous 
cyclists took part in "century runs," covering a hundred miles or 
more in one trip. 

Some even went touring on their vacations astride of wheels. 
A party consisting of A. H. Wilcox, W. H. Squire, J. E. Brainard, 

114 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

L. C. Evarts, the Rev. J. W. Logan, W. F. Hutchinson, Arthur 
E. Hall, G. N. Shepley, Charles Bryant, and George Brown took 
a trip by wheel from Meriden to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick 
in 1894. They covered more than 500 miles on their bicycles, 
traveling the rest of the way on boats and trains. 

The gentlemen riders, who took it easy and managed to survey 
at least part of the countryside, were sometimes forced off the 
road by the speed demons known as "scorchers." These were the 
equivalent of the more reckless "hot rodders" of today. Wearing 
loud caps and tight-fitting jerseys, they bent low over the handle- 
bars, and made the dust and chickens fly. 

There were real speed artists, the genuine article, who competed 
in regulated contests. Meriden had a number of outstanding 
wheelmen in this class, among them Arthur M. Curtis, who held 
the New York to Boston record, and Daniel J. Canary, who 
became world-famous as a trick cyclist as well as a fast rider. He 
traveled all over the United States, in Britain and the countries 
of Europe, giving exhibitions of his daring and skill. 

Some local sportsmen liked to stage impromptu contests for side 
bets. Arthur Curtis was once induced to take part in a novel race 
with a running horse owned by Charles H. Cheeney as his 
competitor. The race started from the corner of Cook Avenue 
and Hanover Street, and the finish line was at the post office in 
Yalesville. The horse was hitched to a sulky. Curtis was paced by 
the tandem team of E. K. Brainard and W. L. Barnard, which 
dropped out at Walnut Grove cemetery. By that time, the horse 
was out of sight. But the cyclist put on an extra burst of speed 
and caught up to the rig at the culvert in Yalesville. A little farther 
along, he passed the horse, and crossed the finish line as the winner 
by a considerable margin. 

Tennis, often called "rackets," was becoming popular here in 
the late 90's. At the old courts on Lincoln Street, some of the well- 
known young business and professional men of the city liked to 
play in the late summer afternoon. Abiram Chamberlain, presi- 
dent of the Home National Bank was reported to be "no mean 
adversary." Willis J. Prouty, of the high school faculty, was 
another staunch contestant. Robert W. Carter, Dr. E. W. Pierce, 
James P. Piatt, A. B. Mather, John W. Coe, and Buell Goodsell 
were among the regulars of the period. The Meriden Lawn 
Tennis Club was formed in 1887, and promoted the sport 

115 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

vigorously for a decade or more. 

Golf had its beginnings here a little later than tennis. The 
Meriden Golf Club was organized in 1898 at the residence of Dr. 
E. T. Bradstreet. A golf course in those days was known as a 
"links," because the holes were laid out like a string of link 
sausages bent into some peculiar shapes. The first golf links was 
on North Colony Street, just beyond the railroad underpass. It 
consisted of nine holes, hewn roughly out of cow pasture. Gutta 
percha or "feather" balls were used, with a range, for the best 
players, of 50 to 60 yards. When a new ball was invented that 
would carry 150 to 175 yards, some of the players objected to it 
because it could be lost too easily. 

The second golf course was in Bradley Park, a nine-hole layout 
which was in use for a dozen years or more. The former club- 
house is still standing. 

The Highland Country Club in Westfield was built in 1915. 
In its early days, the membership was divided between Meriden 
and Middletown residents. But the Middletown members with- 
drew to found their own course in Cromwell, and the burden of 
supporting the club eventually became too heavy for the Meriden 
membership. The 18-hole course, a most picturesque layout, was 
owned by the Wilcox Realty Company, which also owned the 
clubhouse. After the club disbanded in the 30's, the course was 
allowed to revert to its natural state, and few traces of it remain. 
During World War II, the clubhouse was converted into 
apartments for war housing. It was demolished after the war. 

But golf was an exercise for the few during its early period. 
The majority of residents took their exercise in other ways, 
including baseball. Many baseball teams were promoted here, and 
some excellent players were developed. Thomas L. Reilly, mayor 
at the time of the Centennial, and Cornelius J. Danaher, when he 
was an aggressive young attorney, were two ardent promoters 
of the sport. 

In Meriden and near its outskirts were several popular amuse- 
ment resorts. Hemlock Grove and Terrace Garden drew crowds 
in the summer evenings and over the week ends. But Hanover 
Park, offering a greater variety of pastimes and more space in 
which to indulge them, was the principal center of attraction. 
There was a merry-go-round, with a double circle of animals, 
almost life-size, and a mechanical source of music, powered by 

116 




Meriden Freight Depot and engine in the 1860's 




Meriden, Cromwell & Waterbury Railway Locomotive 












.'.■ •' •„ .,„.. „, 



»^ : |fraMrV 



The Meriden House after the Blizzard of 1888 
Corner of Colony and West Main Streets 




Locomotive at Meriden Railroad Station, same storm 




to 



rz 



U 




Corner East Main and State Streets 
when location was known as "Paddock's Corner" 




$Sr& 


t * i mJf" 


v. 


$s* 


\mfr 


% '% . 


\] _ 


m 



Meriden's Business Center 




"The Loop" before 1880 
Perkins Street, looking east. Crown Street in background 




Parade on East Main Street in the 90's 




Meriden Y.M.C.A. on Colony Street 
Building stood on present site of Boynton's, Inc. 



fe ::; 




Y.M.C.A. Clubhouse and Tennis Courts 
OfT Lincoln Street, early in this century 




Looking south from the corner of Church Street, about 1885 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

steam, in the center of the ring. After the park had been 
dismantled, one of the big lions from the carousel was borrowed 
by the Meriden Lions Club and used for the crowning piece on its 
float in the Tercentenary Parade of 1935. 

Vaudeville acts, balloon ascensions, exhibits of various kinds 
were weekly features at Hanover Park. Some fast baseball games 
were played on the adjacent ball field. In one of these games, on 
April 4, 1890, the New York world's champions met the Meriden 
Resolutes, a semi-pro team made up of local stars. There were 
manv others. 

Hanover Park, which comprised 30 acres, could also boast of 
its boating facilities. The boat house near the pavilion housed 36 
rowboats and a naphtha launch in 1895. The sail around the lake 
and up the Quinnipiac River on this launch, the "Amelia," was 
available at the price of one dime per passenger. 

Roller skating and dancing in the Casino were other diversions. 
With its numerous concessions in action, the place looked like a 
small section of Savin Rock. But there were wide lawns and big 
trees to shelter the families which spread out basket picnics in the 
shade. The electric cars brought them in swarms when the 
weather was favorable. Every seat was crowded with adults and 
youngsters, and some perched precariously on the running boards, 
where they impeded the progress of the conductor as he edged 
his way along to collect fares. Smokers occupied the last seat 
in the car or the rear platform. 

The styles in dress, for both men and women, were rather 
elaborate in this period. In 1890, a fashion article in the Meriden 
Journal stated: 

"The girl of the year will be shaped in a new way. She will 
have knees. To make knees, a woman has only one resort, which is 
tying back the dress around the figure just at the line of the knees. 
If you want to get yourself up to look exactly like the extremely 
up-to-date girl of the year, begin at your underwear and have it 
shaped as tightly to your figure as possible. If necessary, wear 
tights. Have the dress fitted closely around the hips, and have it 
begin to flare just below the belt in the back. Have the flare set 
out like a great fan, taking care there is no fullness at the sides." 

Many seasons were to pass before skirts would creep upward 
to the knee line and even above — in the "flapper" fashions of the 
turbulent 20's. The pancake hat, the peach basket hat, the wide- 

117 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

brimmed sailor hat, the pompadour stuffed with a "rat," the 
Princess gown, the sheath gown and many other vagaries of style 
were to come and go. The snapshots in Meriden family albums 
would show a long procession of these styles, all of which appear 
strange to the modern eye — until they are revived by some 
couturier claiming an "original" creation. 

But the men of the 90's had their vanities, too. 

To quote from The Journal of December 7, 1895: 

"Is there a break in the front crease of your trousers just above 
the shoe tops? Well, there should be. Notice the next dozen 
well-dressed men you meet. If the break is there, they are not 
only well dressed but correctly dressed, so far as their trousers 
go. This year's derby has a full crown, brim of medium width 
and well curled. A silk hat should always be worn with the Prince 
Albert coat, and of course with full dress. The cutaway is still 
the thing for business. New styles in cutaways are often worn 
with waistcoats of contrasting material. The new topcoats are 
in box effects — very striking." 

Meriden business and professional men were careful about their 
dress. Bankers, lawyers, and doctors wore somber black or gray, 
but the young bloods of the city broke out in checks and plaids. 
The derby hat crowned two men out of three during the colder 
months. The others wore caps. Hard straw hats with wide brims 
were affected, especially by the younger men, after the weather 
turned warm. No man went without a hat. Nearly every man 
had some sort of facial adornment in the form of whiskers. Those 
without beards grew moustaches trained in handle-bar shapes or 
allowed to droop at the sides of the mouth. Few moustaches 
were closely trimmed. Barber shops displayed rows of shaving 
mugs which were the individual property of their regular 
customers. The mutton-chop whisker, edging down the cheek, 
was the special tag of the banker, and at least one Meriden banker 
sported this type of whisker until his death after the close of 
World War L 

Just as a fast sports car today is a possession for the young in 
heart, so the fast trotting horse was a property for men with 
sporting blood and youthful spirit before the automobile came 
along. During the winters, when there was good sleighing, many 
a trotting duel took place on the wider streets, some of them 
spur-of-the-moment affairs; others arranged to draw out side bets. 

118 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

During the summer, such activities were transferred to the old 
trotting park at the north end, near Bailey Avenue. Traces of this 
layout may still be observed from the air according to persons 
who have flown over it recently. 

Adjacent to the track were the fair grounds, where annual fairs 
were held for many years. The Connecticut Agricultural Society 
purchased the property, off Kensington Avenue, in 1890. But the 
fairs began to wane in popularity not long after that, and were 
discontinued in 1895. 

During the Centennial in 1906, the trotting park was sold by 
the Meriden Park Company to Albert N. Butler and Leonard 
Suzio for about $10,000. The purchasers said they intended to 
subdivide the 56 acres of land, between Kensington and Bailey 
Avenues, into building lots. They stated also that the building on 
high land near the grandstand would be retained as a clubhouse 
to be rented for socials and outings. Much of the tract has been 
built over, but the structure which once housed agricultural 
exhibits, baked goods and fancy work, entered in competition for 
prizes, is no longer standing. 

The spaciousness characteristic of the era distinguished the 
homes which were built by men of substance, and even those in 
the middle income brackets were able to erect houses of eight 
rooms or more. The dwelling of the average family was a 
sprawling affair, with broad verandahs and bay windows on the 
sides. Usually, there was a cupola to rise about the roof line, and 
a port-cochere extending over the carriage drive. Inside, the 
instincts of the period for over-elaborate decoration were given 
full scope. Furniture in ungainly shapes crowded the living room. 
Dark draperies hung beside the windows, with lace curtains at 
the sash. Antimacassars on the backs of chairs caught the pomade 
which might rub off the head of the over-barbered man. 
Whatnots, covered with sea shells, little porcelain figurines, and 
curios of all kinds stood in the corner. The hearth was flanked 
with screens hand-painted by mother or one of the girls. A 
French ormulu clock, covered with a glass dome, probably stood 
on the mantel. The wallpaper might be dark green or red. The 
woodwork was always dark, and generally of mahogany, cherry, 
stained oak or black walnut. In such sombre rooms, the life of the 
family was by no means gloomy or dull, for there were all sorts 
of parlor diversions. 

119 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

Musical evenings, when everyone gathered around the Wilcox 
& White "pneumatic symphony" or self-playing organ, occurred 
often. These organs, a much-prized possession in many Meriden 
homes, were a local product. They could be played by hand, or 
a perforated paper roll could be run through the mechanism to 
produce "the most intricate and beautiful music without touching 
the fingers to the keys." The player piano was a later development 
of the same company in its factory on Cambridge Street and was 
manufactured until the concern finally disbanded. The Aeolian 
Company, at Tremont and Cambridge Streets, also made players 
and went into the phonograph record business in its later 
operations here. The parlor organs and player pianos were 
gradually displaced by the phonograph which, in turn, suffered 
a decline with the advent of radio broadcasting. 

Meriden homes could be and often were well equipped with 
local products before the dawn of the new century: silverware 
from Meriden Britannia; lamps and lighting fixtures from a 
number of companies, including the Miller Company, the Bradley 
& Hubbard Mfg. Company, the Handel Company, the Meriden 
Bronze Company; table knives and forks from the Meriden 
Cutlery Company; porcelain and glass novelties from the C. F. 
Monroe Company; nickel silver specialties from the E. A. Bliss 
Company; cut glassware from the J. D. Bergen Company or T. 
Niland & Co.; silver-plated napkin rings and salts and peppers 
made by Wilbur B. Hall. Some of these names have been all but 
forgotten, but they represented manufacturers important in the 
Meriden of that day. 

Meriden had its share of total abstainers, whose lips never 
touched anything stronger than coffee or tea, but there were 
also plenty of families which served beer and wine sold through 
local enterprise. The Meriden Brewing Company, an affiliate of 
the Connecticut Breweries Company, produced large quantities 
of beer in its plant on South Colony Street, abutting on the line 
of the Consolidated Railroad. It had a capacity of 100,000 barrels 
a year. Its "Golden Pale Ale" and "Pale Extra Lager" were in 
large demand in the 90's, but the business lapsed later. Attempts 
were made to revive it at different periods, but the old brewery 
finally fell into disuse for its original purpose. E. J. Burke's tire 
recapping plant occupies part of the old buildings. 

The California Wine Company, operated by J. A. McHugh 

120 



NOTES OF A SPACIOUS ERA 

in 1894, sold "real, pure and unadulterated California wines such 
as are often purchased by physicians for medical purposes." But 
it may be assumed that a doctor's prescription was unnecessary 
to obtain them here. 

Distilled liquors were likely to be kept out of sight in Meriden 
homes of this period, for the cocktail before dinner had not 
become an institution, and young people were never allowed to 
partake. The man of the family, if he wanted to "wet his whistle," 
as the saying went, had his choice of a large number of saloons, 
or could drop in at his club. The old Winthrop bar was always 
well patronized in the late afternoon, when businessmen gathered 
there on their way home. 

There was practically no "night life." The earliest sign of it 
was at the cafe operated by Claude Terrell on Colony Street, in 
the building which formerly housed Liggett's Drug Store. The 
Ponselle sisters were entertainers there for a brief period some 
years before Rosa took the path to stardom with the Metropolitan 
Opera Company. 

This chapter should not be concluded without reference to a 
strange character who roamed these parts in the 70's and 80's. 
He was known universally as the "Old Leather Man," and never 
divulged his real name. His garments were fashioned entirely of 
leather, tailored by himself, and much patched to hold them 
together. Wherever he stopped, people were glad to feed him and 
give him a lodging in some barn or shed. Never did he utter a 
word, and the question as to whether he was dumb has never 
been answered. There were numerous explanations of his garb 
and behavior, some of them fantastic. His habitual itinerary 
covered many parts of the state, and many feature stories have 
been written about him. He died of exposure during a winter 
storm in a barn in upper New York state. 



121 



CHAPTER TWENTY 



The Century Turns 

Whether or not there is truth in the old saying that the first 
hundred years are the hardest, Meriden emerged from its first 
century as a separate community with few scars from its worst 
experiences and a rugged constitution that had proved itself able 
to survive every test. 

Its city government was well ordered and ran smoothly. Its 
manufactures were thriving, and Meriden products were favor- 
ably known throughout the world. Its people had proved 
themselves industrious and thrifty. The business district was 
spreading out, and stores offered a reasonable variety of mer- 
chandise. The principal streets had been improved with new 
paving. Street lighting had been greatly extended. Railroad and 
street transportation facilities were even better, in some respects, 
than at present, and there was a network of electric lines to 
nearby communities. The school system did not suffer by 
comparison with the systems of other cities near JVieriden's size. 
Banks were strong and able to respond to the financial demands 
of growing business and industry. There was no problem of 
unemployment. 

The time had come for the city to review its past and take 
stock of its present while sending out feelers for the future. It 
was the psychological moment for a celebration that would give 
an opportunity for a display of civic pride and call attention to 
local achievements. The occasion was ready-made, just as at 
present, for in 1906 one hundred years could be counted since 
the first town meeting. 

The Centennial was a masterpiece of organization, so well 
constructed that the group which planned the Sesquicentennial 
for the current year was able to draw valuable hints from the 
planning done 50 years ago. At least a year was devoted to 
arranging the details. Invitations were sent far and wide to reach 
former residents. 

When the period of the celebration arrived, June 9 to 16, the 
town was filled to overflowing with visitors. Hotels and boarding 

122 



THE CENTURY TURNS 

houses were packed. Private homes opened their doors to take 
in guests, many of whom came not for just a day or two but for 
the entire week. 

Factories closed at noon on June 9, to remain closed for the 
duration of the observance. Main Street, east and west, Colony 
Street, State Street, Pratt Street, and many residential streets were 
decorated lavishly. Store fronts wore red, white and blue bunting, 
which draped from the roofs and framed every window. Bands 
were so numerous that the air was filled with music nearly all 
day long. Small boys ran themselves out of breath trying to keep 
up with the parades. It was a holiday time for all, but there were 
serious moments, too. 

The churches conducted special services to open the week. 

The historical side of the occasion was amply presented in 
addresses by those who knew it best. Incorporation Day, which 
wound up the week, was marked by a reproduction of the first 
town meeting. The late Sherman F. Johnson was the author of 
the script, which was based on the record of that historic event, 
so far as it could be pieced together from old documents. 

By authority of the general committee, "A Century of 
Meriden" was published as an official souvenir of the Centennial. 
The book was divided into three parts, each fully indexed. The 
early history of the town was written by George Munson Curtis. 
The remaining content was compiled by C. Bancroft Gillespie. A 
portion of the receipts from this volume, which was widely sold, 
helped to defray the expenses of the celebration. Fifty years later, 
there are still occasional demands for copies, but few who possess 
the book can be persuaded to relinquish it. 

Another book issued at the time was entitled "Meriden's 
Centennial Celebration" In 400 pages, it contained a full account 
of the occasion and many photographs. 

Although a special town meeting had appropriated $5,000 to 
defray expenses, the revenue received from other sources made 
it unnecessary to draw more than $600 from this fund. The 
general committee had more than $16,500 at its disposal to pay for 
the event. 

There were carnival aspects to the affair which brought in large 
sums for the special licenses issued to vendors. 

The sports program was almost continuous, with ball games, 
a golf tournament and racing at the old trotting park, with field 

123 



THE CENTURY TURNS 

events at the adjacent fair grounds. 

An industrial exposition was held at Hanover Park, where there 
were also evening band concerts and displays of fireworks. 

Several state conventions were held here during the week, 
including the Connecticut Bankers' Association at the Home Club, 
at which ex-Governor Abiram Chamberlain, president of the 
association and also president of the Home National Bank 
presided. 

On "Labor's Big Day," Wednesday, June 13, a mammoth street 
parade was held, in which dozens of handsome floats were entered. 
Thousands of labor union members took part. 

Meriden's veterans of the Civil War, although aging, were still 
vigorous. They were hosts for the Department of Connecticut 
Grand Army encampment here on two days of the celebration. 

On another day, two large parades were held: one by the 32 
drum corps in the Connecticut Fif ers' and Drummers' Association; 
the other by the Second Connecticut Regiment of the National 
Guard. The drummers began marching shortly after daybreak, 
and were still marching at the noon hour. The United Spanish 
War Veterans also held an encampment here, extending over 
two days. 

Wallingford's place in connection with Meriden's early history 
was not forgotten. One day of the affair was set aside as Walling- 
ford Day. The Putnam Phalanx of Hartford came here to do 
honor to the occasion, with its members in their ceremonial 
uniforms carrying out the colonial tradition. They marched up 
the hill to the city hall singing the song of the noble Duke of 
York, and carrying flintlock muskets, each weighing eleven and 
one-half pounds. 

The Colonial Ball was held that evening, and proved one of 
the most spectacular features of the entire celebration. 

Meriden's Centennial attracted wide attention and received 
favorable editorial comment in newspapers throughout the state. 
It was so successful that there was serious discussion of the 
proposal that the city hold some sort of public celebration 
annually to proclaim its progress. Before a year passed, this 
proposal had been forgotten. Other matters were more pressing. 
But memories of the Centennial lingered with those who were 
here when it was held, and older residents still like to recall it. 



124 



CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 



The Automobile Age 



The automobile Age had barely begun when the current century 
was ushered in. There were only two cars in Meriden in 1900: 
one, an Olds runabout owned by Wallace F. Bowe of A. Bowe 
& Son; the other, a steam-powered car, make unidentified, 
belonging to Dr. H. L. Patzold, a dentist. 

But the urge to own an automobile spread rapidly. In 1903, 
there were 38 cars registered here. It was the custom of the state 
at that time to issue numbers to the possessors of motor vehicles 
and let them make their own number plates. Some used slabs of 
wood, others patent leather with brass figures, or painted oilcloth 
with a stiff backing. 

Three years later, at the time of the Centennial, there were 
enough new cars to make an impressive showing in the street 
parade. Some of them cost as much as $7,500, and the average cost 
was more than half that sum. First prize for the most handsomely 
decorated car went to the late Dr. F. L. Murdock, dentist, for 
his "big Thomas car," covered with a blanket of flowers arching 
above the heads of the passengers. 

Among the early dealers were Wilbur F. Parker, agent for the 
Thomas "Flyer"' and Thomas "40," and Arthur Meeks, who 
handled several makes including the Cadillac "one lunger." 

The purchase of an automobile was considered real news in 
those days, and sales were reported regularly in the press. 

The demand for cars grew each year, and more and more 
businessmen joined the ranks of automobile dealers. Some of them 
had gained mechanical experience tinkering with bicycles. 

The Meriden Auto Station is, by long odds, the oldest agency 
in the city. It was founded by Adam Englehart, and is still 
conducted by his son Leon J. Englehart. The original garage was 
where the Connecticut Light & Power Company building stands 
today. Later in the Yost Block, it was moved finally to 231 West 
Main Street. For most of these years, it has handled the same 
make of car — the Buick. 

John F. Miller engaged in business in 1911, handling the 

125 



THE AUTOMOBILE AGE 

air-cooled Franklin, and was still selling Franklins when the 
company went out of business about 1934. 

F. N. Hastings was another early dealer, representing the 
Oakland car. His garage was in the rear of his home on Griswold 
Street. 

Charles H. Cheeney began to sell Studebakers in 1916, and was 
one of the earliest Chevrolet dealers. 

There were numerous others in the period just before and just 
after World War I. The first great line-up of local dealers 
occurred in 1922 when the first automobile show in Meriden was 
presented at the New Departure plant shortly before it opened 
for production. After that year, shows were staged annually for 
a long period at the state armory. The incentive to hold them 
began to disappear when most dealers opened showrooms of 
their own, where they could display a variety of models. 

Scores of makes of automoblies have been handled in Meriden 
during the last 50 years, and the names of many would be 
remembered only by older residents who knew what it was to 
fumble through a tool kit while trying to make repairs on the 
road, or to change one of the old clincher tires under similar 
conditions. 

Among the older agencies listed today is Gilmartin Motor Sales 
Corp., Dodge and Plymouth, founded by the late John Gilmartin 
in partnership with the late John F. Day, as Gilmartin & Day, and 
now conducted by John Gilmartin, Jr. The garage at 127 Colony 
Street was built in 1910. John J. Scanlon, now handling Chrysler 
and Plymouth at 34 Miller Street, began business in 1924. Max's 
Automotive Service, DeSoto, Plymouth, at 172 West Main Street, 
established 1933, is owned by Max Katz, whose connection with 
the automobile business began much earlier when he was a 
mechanic for Charles H. Cheeney. 

The Alderman Motor Co., 65 Cook Avenue, Oldsmobile and 
Cadillac, began business in 1923 at the corner of Cook Avenue 
and Hanover Street, and later was on Pratt Street before moving 
to the present quarters. The Ford agency of D. W. Flint, Inc. was 
once in the same building. Later, the agency passed to Budd 
Motors and finally to Danaher Bros., whose garage is on Parker 
Avenue. 

Other automobile dealerships here have much briefer histories. 



126 



CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO 



Theaters, Past and Present 

The centennial celebration was handicapped in one respect. 
Arrangements had been made to hold a number of the most 
important gatherings in the Meriden Theater on Church Street, 
more generally known, through long tradition, as the Delavan 
Opera House. But the old theater, which was practically the only 
place of theatrical entertainment here for a quarter of a century, 
burned down on March 27, 1906, forcing a revision of all the 
plans to connect it with the program less than three months away. 
The building so inconveniently destroyed had once housed 
religious services. It was erected by the First Congregational 
Society in 1847, when a portion of the membership of the uptown 
church broke away to establish a new place of worship down- 
town. It was used continuously as a church until 1879, when the 
last communion was held on March 2. Then located at the corner 
of Church and Colony Streets, the building was moved to the 
rear and turned to face Church Street. The present First Congre- 
gational Church on Colony Street was constructed at that time, 
and the former church was purchased by Horace Wilcox. After 
the removal of the edifice, he proceeded to erect the Wilcox 
Block on the corner site. Meanwhile, the conversion of the church 
into a theater proceeded, and the work was finished in time for 
the scheduled opening performance on December 4, 1879. The 
first play presented was "Our Bachelors," produced by Robinson 
& Crane. It was written by Joseph Bradford, brother-in-law of 
J. S. Norton, cashier of the Home National Bank. Charles S. 
Perkins, later to fill the same position and to rise to the presidency 
of the bank, was appointed manager of the theater by Mr. Wilcox. 
Mr. Perkins remained as manager through the first season, but 
was replaced the following year by Thomas Delavan. Delavan did 
not remain long in charge. He left town. But his wife succeeded 
him and directed the theater until the summer of 1901, when Jean 
Jacques, who conducted a theater in Waterbury, took over the 
lease. The Jacques management lasted until 1904. Ira W. Jackson 
and William D. Reed of New London then assumed the lease, 

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THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

changed the name to the Meriden Theater, and ran it until it 
burned. 

Many of the great and the near-great actors of the nineteenth 
century played at the Delavan Opera House during its heyday. 
The old productions required licenses, and records at the city 
hall contain the illustrious names of Edwin Booth, E. H. Sothern, 
Joseph Jefferson, Mary Anderson, Fanny Davenport, Modjeska, 
Januschak, Emma Abbott, Pat Rooney, Sr., Sol Smith Russell, 
Denman Thompson and Buffalo Bill. 

The mainstay of the old theater was the "stock company." A 
long succession of these companies performed such standard 
plays of the period as "East Lynn," "Two Orphans," "Only a 
Farmer's Daughter," "Pirates of Penzance," "The Old Home- 
stead" made popular by Denman Thompson, "Rip Van Winkle" 
with Joseph Jefferson in the title role, "The Celebrated Case," 
"Bess, the Waif," "Peck's Bad Boy," "Black Flag," "Power of 
Money," "Wages of Sin," "The Black Crook," and many more. 

"Uncle Tom's Cabin," based on the famous book by Harriet 
Beecher Stowe, was presented on numerous occasions. 

Minstrel performances were frequent attractions, always pre- 
ceded by a "mammoth street parade." 

Light opera companies with casts of 40 to 50 persons came 
here often to present the equivalent of today's musical comedies. 

After Mrs. Delavan gave up the lease in 1901, the character of 
the shows began to change. Under Jackson and Reed, a decline in 
attendance was noticeable, but by then motion pictures had begun 
to offer some competition. The Meriden Theater began to show 
movies to fill in the week's bill about a year before it burned. The 
management promised to build a new theater, but could not 
obtain the backing necessary for the venture. 

Only a few traces remain of this once celebrated playhouse, 
to be seen by those who look for them carefully. The entrance, 
now boarded up, was at the east end of the Horton Printing 
Company building. An archway of brownstone marks the spot. 
A small area of much-worn marble flags may be noticed just 
inside the archway. Near the ceiling are traces of ornamental iron 
work in relief, the material which lined the lobby. Through this 
entrance, theatergoers passed directly back to the box office and 
from there to the auditorium at the rear. A yard, partially enclosed 
by small garages, occupies the space where the audiences were 

128 



THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

seated. The stage was at the west end of the auditorium, near the 
retaining wall which rises to the municipal parking lot. Entrance 
to the top balcony was gained by means of a door on the alley 
which runs between the printing company's building and the rear 
of the Wilcox Block. 

At the corner of Church Street and High School Avenue stood 
Austin's livery stable, where Mrs. Delavan kept the horse which 
drew her light buggy and the heavier wagon used for bill-posting 
excursions, and to convey scenery for the performances from the 
railroad station to the theater. The wagon was backed up to an 
alleyway which led from Church Street, and from there was 
unloaded into a storage room beside the stage. The stage entrance 
was beside this passage. 

Meriden missed the opera house and the types of entertainment 
which had been presented there. Not long after the fire, the 
Meriden Board of Trade, predecessor of the Chamber of Com- 
merce, started a movement to gain backing for a new theater. 
Early in 1907, this effort was successful, for S. Z. Poli of New 
Haven, who had already started a chain of theaters in New 
England, told a local committee, headed by C. H. Tredennick, that 
he would invest capital if a company could be formed to erect 
a theater here, taking a long term lease on the house and guaran- 
teeing a rental that would give investors a good return on their 
money. The Meriden Theater Company was organized, with a 
capital of $100,000, and C. W. Cahill, owner of the Cahill Block, 
agreed to build the theater in the rear of this property, with a 
lobby opening from East Main Street. On August 17, 1907, the 
first brick of the new theater was laid by Mayor Thomas L. 
Reilly. 

The theater had 1,700 seats, originally, on main floor and first 
and second balconies. The stage was 40 feet deep and the 
proscenium arch measured 36 x 27 feet. The decorations were 
ornate and the appointments impressive. Few theaters in New 
England could match it at that period, and to it some of the best 
legitimate attractions in the country were brought during its 
earlier period. But even before World War I the competition 
of motion pictures was making it unprofitable to send the better 
class of road companies on tour into the smaller cities. Vaudeville 
and variety shows were still in the ascendant. The Poli Theater 
compromised by booking road shows occasionally while concen- 

129 



THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

trating, through most of the season, on combination programs of 
vaudeville and motion pictures. By that time, the S. Z. Poli chain 
had access to the best acts in vaudeville. The bills changed twice 
and sometimes three times weekly, and the house was well filled 
throughout the fall and winter. 

In 1920, Mr. Cahill offered $100,000 for the theater, its site, 
and the equipment, and the offer was accepted by the directors 
of the Meriden Theater Company, which then proceeded to 
disband. 

After the collapse of vaudeville, due mainly to the advent of 
movies with sound, the Poli Theater became a motion picture 
house entirely, except for occasional performances by amateurs, 
such as the annual Charity Club show and the Fellowcraft 
Minstrels, presented there for a number of years. 

In 1928, the theater lease was taken over by the Loew interests, 
combined with what was left of the original Poli enterprise. 

The death sentence for the 45-year-old theater, which had often 
served for community gatherings, such as war bond rallies during 
World War I, came in 1952, when William J. Cahill, Jr., mayor at 
that time, announced that the building would be razed. It was 
torn down in 1953. 

The Loew Poli Palace Theater on West Main Street is the 
successor to a theatrical enterprise which began in 1921, when 
the late Esidor Derecktor signed a contract with the Sutherland 
Construction Company of St. Louis to construct a theater in the 
rear of a business block which he owned. The St. Louis concern 
agreed to put up the building for $225,000 and to sign a lease 
for a term of 50 years. Some local capital, in addition to that 
furnished by Mr. Derecktor, had been attracted to the venture, 
and the enterprise was named the Community Playhouse. Its life 
under these auspices was short. Even before the first year was out, 
it was apparent that mistakes had been made, both in the design 
of the theater and in its management. Built all on one floor, with 
no balconies, the acoustical properties of the auditorium were 
found to be deficient. Much space was wasted in the lobby, where 
a fountain played. Some big names of the theatrical world had 
been featured in occasional legitimate productions there, but the 
general run of attractions brought poor to only fair attendance. 
In 1922, Patrick F. McMahon, a former resident of Meriden, and 
Nathan and Samuel Derecktor bought practically all of the stock 

130 



THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

in the company, and took full control. But their reign was also 
short. 

The Sutherland Construction Company was still in the picture, 
through the arrangements made originally, and it had the deciding 
voice. The Community Playhouse was sold in 1924 to the S. Z. 
Poli Theatrical Enterprises. Mr. Poli himself was still active. The 
move gave him control of two theaters in Meriden, for he was 
still operating the older house. 

Although still young, the Community Playhouse was already 
showing signs of wear, and Mr. Poli gave orders for its entire 
renovation and for alterations to improve the arrangement and 
acoustics. This work was completed, and the theater, entirely 
changed in the interior, was opened for the first performance on 
August 11, 1924, rechristened the Meriden Poli Palace. 

Due to a combination between the Fox and Poli interests, the 
name was again changed in 1930, when the theater became known 
as the Fox-Poli Palace. Later the Fox name was dropped, after 
a financial reorganization which brought the famous theatrical 
name of Loew into the picture, and placed it beside the name of 
Poli, which was equally well known in New England. 

The Loew Poli Palace Theater has continued the successful 
policies which were inaugurated after the Community Playhouse 
venture failed. M-G-M productions are featured, but a wide 
range of selections from Hollywood's best is offered throughout 
the year. 

The Capitol Theater on Grove Street is strictly a local enter- 
prise. Originally called the Life Theater, the name was changed 
to its present form in 1930, when J. M. Ricci, owner of the 
property, decided to operate the business, and placed his son Leo 
Ricci in charge. During the spring and summer of that year, the 
theater was enlarged and entirely renovated. It underwent further 
alterations in 1937. While they were in progress, the staff was 
moved to the East Main Street Poli Theater, and the programs 
were presented there. The personnel returned to the Capitol as 
soon as the work was completed, and the house was reopened 
December 17, 1937. Since then, it has been completely renovated 
several times. In 1950, an addition was built, measuring 103 feet in 
depth, 35 feet wide at the front and 22 feet wide in the rear, to 
provide a new entrance and a new lounge. Air conditioning was 

131 



THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

also installed. Leo Ricci has continued to manage the theater since 
1930. 

The latest addition to Meriden's theatrical enterprises is the 
Meriden Theater on South Broad Street, near the Wallingford 
town line. It was constructed on a portion of the old Watrous 
farm. Three New Britain men, Nick Kounaris, A. Tolles, and 
George Ulysses were originally involved, but there have been 
changes in ownership since. The structure was designed to seat 
from 950 to 1,000 persons in an air-conditioned auditorium. It 
was completed in 1949. 

There have been other theaters in Meriden since motion 
pictures became a popular form of public entertainment. Among 
them were the Star, Bijou, and Crystal which were opened in the 
period between 1910 and 1920. All these were small movie houses. 
For a time, an open-air theater was in operation on Church Street, 
during the summers. Known as the Air Dome, it was under the 
same ownership and management as the Crystal Theater on 
Colony Street, opposite the Winthrop Hotel. Many older 
residents had their first introduction to the movies in these tiny 
theaters, which went out of business many years ago. 

Meriden is the home city of many who rose to become 
celebrities in the world of entertainment. Among them, none 
achieved greater fame than Rosa Ponselle, born Rosa Ponzillo, 
often rated as the finest dramatic soprano ever to join the 
Metropolitan Opera Company. At the height of her career in the 
20's, she sang with Enrico Caruso, Gigli, and other stars who have 
never been excelled. Her sister, Carmela, was well known as an 
opera and concert singer. Both sisters, when in their teens, sang 
between movie reels at the old Star Theater on West Main Street, 
and appeared frequently before various local organizations. 

George Sklar, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ezak Sklar of this city, 
began his successful career as a playwright when he was still in 
Yale University. He has written a long succession of plays and 
novels and adaptations for the screen. In some of his books, a 
Meriden background was recognizable. 

In the field of vaudeville, when it was in its prime, Meriden 
produced many headliners of their day, among them Milton Bros., 
acrobats; Vesta and Teddy Wentworth; Jack and Dennis Hag- 
gerty and their trained dog; the Savoys, another dog act; Kennedy 
& Kramer, famous dance team, of whom the survivor, James 

132 



THEATERS, PAST AND PRESENT 

Kennedy, is still in Meriden and connected with the circulation 
department of the Record- Journal; Eddie DeVoe, contortionist; 
John Potts, celebrated clown; Walter Brasyl, dancer with Prim- 
rose Minstrels; Harry Bolden and Hattie Sharp, singing and piano; 
Eddie Dowling, with Dockstader's Minstrels; Charles Nellis, Jr. 
with Guy Bros. Minstrels; Lee Harrissier Bros., with Guy Bros.; 
Bill Dunham, singer; Mike Carron, acrobat; Eddie Garvey of 
Girard & Garvey; Morris Slater, singer with Guy Bros.; Freddie 
Miller, dancer; and George Rollins, dancer. LeRoi McCafferty, 
well-known magician of the "big time" made his home here for 
many years. 



133 



CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE 



Sports Celebrities 



Meriden's interest in all forms of sports has always been keen. 
Many celebrities of the sports world have been born and bred in 
Meriden, and others, equally famous have become local citizens 
by adoption. Space does not permit the enumeration of all the 
greater and lesser stars who have lived here at one stage or another 
of their careers, but a few of special importance may be men- 
tioned. 

There was the beloved Connie Mack who came to Meriden 
about 1884 as a lanky young catcher, signed by a local promoter 
also know as Connie. Cornelius J. Danaher, then a youthful 
attorney with a flair for arranging sports events, picked Cornelius 
McGillicuddy to play on the Meriden team which was giving a 
rub to many teams of the state in games at the old trotting park 
off Kensington Avenue. Both Connies made good in their separate 
ways. Connie Mack hit a triple the first time at bat. He later 
caught in Hartford and graduated to Philadelphia, where he rose 
to fame as manager and principal owner of the Philadelphia 
Athletics. Mack's original sponsor, Connie Danaher, gained dis- 
tinction as Connecticut's Labor Commissioner and in his long 
career before the bar. He is the father of former Mayor Francis 
R. Danaher and of John A. Danaher, who was elected U. S. 
senator in 1938. At that time another Meriden man, the late 
Francis T. Maloney, was also in the U. S. Senate. John Danaher 
is now judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals of the District of 
Columbia. 

Jack Barry, born in Meriden in 1887, starred in sports at 
Meriden High School and later at Holy Cross. He was signed by 
Connie Mack directly from the Holy Cross campus in 1908 as 
regular shortstop, and became an integral part of the illustrious 
"$100,000 infield" which included Stuffy Mclnnis, Eddie Collins, 
and "Home Run" Baker. When the quartet was disbanded, 
Barry went to the Red Sox, and helped to spark the winning of 
pennants in 1915 and 1916. He managed Boston to second place 
in 1917. At present he is regarded as one of the nation's top 

134 



SPORTS CELEBRITIES 

coaches at Holy Cross. 

Sam Babcock, outstanding amateur and semi-pro hockey player, 
has turned to officiating, and is now in his 16th year as National 
Hockey League linesman. He is the oldest official in NHL in term 
of service. 

Lois Felix, Meriden tennis star, learned the game in Brookside 
Park, in the rear of her home. She became local, state, and New 
England champion without benefit of formal coaching. Miss 
Felix participated in the Nationals at Forest Hills and also played 
at Wimbledon in England. She was once ranked eighth nationally 
in singles by the U. S. Lawn Tennis Association and was rated 
fifth nationally in doubles. 

Julius Woronick, Meriden's No. 1 professional wrestler, 
appeared under the name of the Great Mephisto. He won the 
recognized light heavyweight world's wrestling championship in 
the early 1930's, and is still in competition. In Canada he is a 
special favorite. 

"Big Ed" Walsh, born in 1881 in Plains, Pa., came to Meriden 
when he was 21, and played for this city in the old Connecticut 
League. During his first year in Aieriden (1902) he won 15 and 
lost 5. The White Sox of the American League bought him from 
Newark after he had compiled a 9-5 record in 1903. In his first 
season with Chicago (1904) Walsh won 6, lost 3. Chicago paid 
$750 for him, probably baseball's greatest bargain. He gained the 
height of his fame in 1908, when he won 40 games, lost 15, 
appeared in 66, struck out 269, walked only 56 and worked 464 
innings. His top salary was $3,500. He was named to the Baseball 
Hall of Fame in 1946. His son, Young Ed, who seemed destined 
for a brilliant future in baseball, died in 1937. 

Louis "Kid" Kaplan retired as undefeated featherweight 
champion of the world. He is regarded as one of the greatest of 
all time in his division. Nicknamed the "Meriden Buzzsaw," he 
won the title on Jan. 2, 1925 from Danny Kramer on a kayo 
in the eighth round. Kaplan began fighting in Meriden in 1921 
and had nine bouts that year; six in Meriden, three in Hartford. 
He won all on decisions. His first fight was July 1, 1921 against 
Sammy Waltz, which he won in 12 rounds. He retired Feb. 23, 
1933, three days after he lost a 10-round decision to Cocoa Kid in 
the New Haven Arena, a fight which did not cost him his title. 

Harry Costello, regarded by many as the greatest football 

135 



SPORTS CELEBRITIES 

player in the history of Georgetown University, was termed by 
"Pop" Warner, the famous coach of the Carlisle Indians, "for his 
inches, one of the finest players who ever lived." Joe Beecham, 
former West Point coach, said of Costello, "He's the best football 
player we had at West Point for as long as I can remember." He 
could punt, pass, run, and drop kick with equal facility. At 
Georgetown, he starred during the seasons 1910-1913. 

Dennis McMahon, known all his life as "Dinny," was the 
manager of world's champion Kid Kaplan. He is one of the few 
to hold the coveted Gold Key awarded by Connecticut sports 
writers. He is now State Athletic Commissioner. 

Walter Surowiecki, one of Meriden's all-time great bowlers, 
won the national singles bowling championship against thousands 
of the country's top keglers with 445. 

Steve Carr, born before the era of television, was the best of 
his day in the light heavyweight division. He was undefeated in 
1932 and 1934. 

Ben Zajac, one of the city's finest basketball players, captained 
Meriden High to the state and New England championships in 
1935. He became a successful basketball coach at Wilcox Tech. 

In schoolboy sports, many interesting chapters have been 
written here. The three major sports, football, basketball, and 
baseball have dominated the scene at Meriden High School, while 
tennis, soccer, swimming, and golf have always been rated there 
as minor sports. The high school's greatest successes have been 
scored in football and basketball. The achievements of the 1916 
and 1926 football teams and the 1934 and 1935 basketball teams 
are best remembered by the older graduates. 

Coach Frank Barnikow, who served M. H. S. from 1926 to 1946 
is credited with one of the best coaching records of the kind in 
the state. He gave the Red and Blue two state and New England 
championship basketball teams in 1934 and 1935, and the second 
unbeaten and untied football team in M. H. S. history in 1926. 

Intersectional games were not taboo in high school sports in 
those days, and Meriden beat Nashua, N. H. in 1926, the first 
out-of-state journey ever taken by an M. H. S. eleven. 

Meriden's first intersectional game was played earlier in the 
20's, when Jimmie Fitzpatrick, a star on the first M. H. S. team 
ever to attain a perfect record, came here from Portland, Maine 
for a clash at Hanover Park which drew a crowd of 2,000. 

136 



SPORTS CELEBRITIES 

The first paid coach at Meriden High School was Pat Meskell, 
who was appointed to coach football in 1917. 

In recent years, Little League baseball and Junior League 
football have become popular in Meriden. A baseball park for 
the Little Leaguers was created on Britannia Street, where games 
are played throughout the season. Teams are uniformed and 
sponsored by local business concerns. Meriden in 1954 was the 
scene of sectional play-offs in Junior League football. In 1955, 
the Meriden "All Stars" were sent to Redondo Beach, Cal., for the 
play-offs there. The local eleven lost the big game by a close 
margin, but gained more ground than their opponents. The 
expenses of the trip were defrayed through local contributions. 



137 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 



World War I 



The assassination of an Austrian Archduke and his wife on June 
28, 1914 was an event so remote from Meriden that none could 
have guessed its implications, so far as this city was concerned. 
But the deaths of Francis Ferdinand and the Duchess of 
Hohenberg led to conflict between Austria and Serbia. The 
rivalry of great European powers, already primed for war, soon 
burst into full flame. On August 1, Germany declared war on 
Russia, and against France on August 3. The German armies 
invaded Belgium on August 4. This is not the place to record the 
titanic struggle which raged up to the time the United States 
entered the war on April 6, 1917. But from that moment, Meriden 
was involved, along with the rest of the country. 

Meriden companies of the National Guard had been seasoned 
a year in advance, when the border troubles with Mexico began 
in 1916. The State Armory here had been dedicated December 
15, 1908, and the local guardsmen had received the standard 
peacetime training in the form of drills and maneuvers. But the 
Mexican border forays under the bandit general, Pancho Villa, 
had cost American lives, and Gen. John J. Pershing, with 12,000 
troops, was sent into Mexico. On June 6, 1916, Meriden 
guardsmen were mobilized and sent to his support. On October 
16 of that year, the local soldiers returned, and were ready when 
the next duty called. 

There was a hard core of experienced men available to form 
the nucleus of the forces summoned from here as America's 
entry into World War I. When the break in diplomatic relations 
with Germany occurred on February 3, 1917, the National Guard 
was mobilized. Two days later, the local companies were on 
guard at the Westinghouse plant at the north end, where large 
defense contracts were being rilled. 

On March 8, there was full mobilization, and Companies I and 
L were sent to Bridgeport for guard duty on April 1 with the 
3rd battalion of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry in anticipation of 
the declaration of war, which came only five days later. At that 

138 



WORLD WAR I 

time, Company I was in command of Capt. William H. Whitney, 
with John R. Feegel as 1st lieutenant and Company L was under 
Capt. Frank H. McGar, with Samuel Tyler as 1st lieutenant. 

The Meriden soldiers served in Bridgeport until July 25, when 
they were moved to Yale Field in New Haven, where the 2nd 
Connecticut Regiment was assembled. 

On August 25, the 2nd Connecticut Infantry became the 102nd 
U. S. Infantry of the 51st Brigade, 26th Division. Company L was 
increased to a strength of 250 men and six officers, with comple- 
ments from Company L of the 1st Connecticut Infantry, 
Company K of the 1st Vermont Infantry and casuals from the 6th 
Massachusetts Infantry. Company I was undergoing much the 
same process. 

The Meriden soldiers, with other units of the 102 nd, entrained 
from New Haven for Montreal, Canada on September 14, and 
from there sailed to Europe. They landed at Liverpool, England 
on October 2, and moved by way of Southampton to Le Havre, 
France. On October 7, they arrived at Certilleaux, Vosges, and 
were part of the 1st Corps Reserve until February 6, 1918, when 
they were sent with other infantry units of the 26th Division to 
Chassemy Wood, Vailly, France, in the Chemin des Dames 
sector. The next transfer was to the American sector on the 
Toule front. They arrived in Ansauville on April 1. On July 3, 
they were drawn into the thick of the fighting in the sector 
around Chateau-Thierry. Following the Champagne, Marne, and 
Ainse-Marne operations, they were moved to Perrefette and Rupt 
en Woevre for the St. Mihiel offensive, which began September 
5. After the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient, the men from 
Meriden were in the movement through Verdun to Bois des 
Ormonte for the closing engagements of the war, ended by the 
Armistice on November 11, 1918. After that, they were held in 
Army reserves near General Headquarters, Chaumont, until 
cleared for return to the United States. They sailed from Brest, 
France, on April 1, 1919, and arrived in Boston, April 7. The local 
units were demobilized at Camp Devens, Mass. on April 29. 

The engagements in which Meriden soldiers took part were 
the gas attack at Pargny-Filain, March 17-18, 1918; Seicheprey- 
Toule front, April 20-21; Xivray-Marvoissin, Toule front, June 
16; jump-off from Moresches for Chateau-Thierry counterattack, 
July 18, to Epieds Trugny Aug. 4; St. Mihiel operation from 

139 



WORLD WAR I 

Woevre to Vigneulles, September 12-13; Wadonville, Saulx and 
Marcheville, September 15-26 as diversion attacks and a feint at 
Metz to cover preparations for the Meuse-Argonne offensive; 
in the Meuse-Argonne offensive their assignment was to protect 
the right flank of the 1st American Army at Bois d'Ormonte 
October 16, and they helped to press the attack through to clear 
the enemy from this area and push him back from the last of his 
strongly entrenched positions. 

The losses of Meriden men in the last phases of the war were 
heavy. Eighty-four names are inscribed on the World War I 
Memorial. 

Throughout the war, the home front in Meriden was lending 
all possible assistance in the support of the fighting forces. 

One of the first essentials here was a uniformed force to replace 
the National Guard in protecting war plants. On March 30, 1917, 
the state called for enlistments in the State Guard. Several 
companies were formed here, later reduced to two companies of 
infantry, and Major Joseph DeCantillon was placed in command 
of the Meriden battalion. Captain H. DeForest Lockwood, after- 
ward promoted to major in the Medical Corps, formed an 
Ambulance Corps. He was one of those who had seen service 
with the National Guard at the Mexican border. A uniformed 
Motor Transport Corps of five battalions was organized, and 
Frank E. Sands was commissioned as major in command. 

All of these companies drilled regularly at the State Army 
and engaged in maneuvers from time to time. As the war 
proceeded, many of the younger men in them became affiliated 
with the fighting forces, and older men filled up the gaps. 

In the fall of 1917, the Meriden War Council was organized 
as an arm of the State Council of Defense. 

Liberty Loan drives became frequent. The second such drive 
went over the top on October 27, 1917, the third in April 1918, 
the fourth a few months later, and the fifth in April 1919. 

Shortages in various essential commodities began to appear in 
the fall of 1917, but the first real pinch occurred on January 18, 
1918, when factories here had to close for five days because of 
lack of coal. It was an exceptionally severe winter, and many 
homes were without fuel on some of the worst days. Again, 
during the following August, deliveries of coal were reduced. 

On September 21, 1917, for a period of about a month, "gasless 

140 



WORLD WAR I 

Sundays" were enforced, and no automobiles were allowed on 
the roads except for the most essential uses under permit. 
Newspapers had to be reduced in size to conserve newsprint. 

On March 21, 1918, daylight saving went into effect for the 
first time. 

On February 28, 1918, dispatches received here carried the 
first news that Meriden troops were engaged in action. On March 
9, 1918, the machine gun company from Camp Devens entrained 
here. 

Full war production in local plants was not achieved until the 
summer of 1918, although war materials were shipped, in some 
instances, in May. 

Long before that time, Meriden had been almost stripped of its 
young men, except those who had received exemption from the 
draft because of physical defects or essential war service. The 
first registration day was on July 5, 1917, and the first draft came 
on July 20. The second registration day was held on September 
12, 1918, embracing those who had reached the age of 21. On 
September 17, all female aliens were required to register. On 
September 16, 1918 the whole force of the Connecticut State 
Guard was ordered to New Haven for review. 

Home front activities appeared on every side in which women, 
as well as men, took part. On May 8, 1918, a meeting of citizens 
decided to organize a War Chest, covering many of the local 
agencies which were taking part in war work. The drive was a 
great success, and the inspiration carried ten years into the future, 
when the Community Fund was formed. 

The news of the Armistice broke prematurely, and was 
greeted with wild rejoicing, but the crowds reassembled in even 
greater number when the official announcement was published 
on November 11, 1918. A large parade wound through the city's 
principal streets. 

On November 11, 1918, Mayor Henry T. King appointed a 
Committee of Ninety to arrange a welcome home for Meriden 
soldiers. The committee went to Boston the following April to 
meet the first arrivals from overseas. 

A "Welcome Home" monument was erected on Winthrop 
Square to serve until the form of a permanent memorial could be 
decided upon. During the war, a board with an honor roll had 
been placed on this site, which was an open plot of land until 

141 



WORLD WAR I 

the present Colony Building was erected on it. 

A long period was to ensue before Meriden's plans to honor its 
war dead matured. Organizations of World War I veterans were 
formed rapidly after the war, however, and took part in the 
deliberations. On March 19, 1920, Meriden Post No. 45, American 
Legion, sponsored a memorial service in the city hall auditorium 
to pay tribute to those who had lost their lives in the struggle. On 
that occasion, French awards to Meriden soldiers were presented, 
some of them posthumously. Lt. Robert Leconte represented the 
French High Command. Mayor Daniel J. Donovan spoke for the 
city, and Dr. David P. Smith, then commander of the Legion 
Post, opened the ceremonies. 

The immortal Yankee Division, the 26th, in which so many 
Meriden men had served, was made up originally entirely of 
volunteers. When hostilities ceased, barely 15 per cent of them 
remained. To its credit were nearly 150 citations, and more than 
7,000 of its men were cited individually for their bravery. Meriden 
soldiers had their full share of these honors, from their own 
country and from the French Government as well. 



142 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE 



World War I Memorial 
and Boulevard 



The committee of Ninety, appointed by Mayor King, had as 
its first duty the task of arranging a suitable reception for the 
veterans, but it also looked forward to the time when the sacrifice 
of those who could not return would be suitably marked with a 
lasting memorial. 

The committee voted on April 1, 1919 that any balance of 
funds remaining after paying the expenses of welcoming celebra- 
tions should be devoted to paying "part or the entire expense of 
a suitable bronze memorial or — the entire expense of suitable 
separate grave markers or monuments" in memory of the dead. 

A canvass for funds resulted in donations of $9,813.70. After 
paying for the welcome home exercises and the maintenance of 
a Soldiers and Sailors club room in Journal Hall, a balance of 
$3,262.20 remained. 

At the same time Aaayor King appointed the Committee of 
Ninety, he appointed another committee "to inquire into and 
report to the people concerning a memorial to those who entered 
the service of their country from Meriden." This committee 
reported in favor of erecting a memorial building on the site of 
the Charles S. Palmer residence, later the home of P. T. Ives. This 
proposal did not meet with favor, and the smaller committee 
took no further action. 

Another plan for a large stone with a bronze plate affixed, to 
stand at the southwest corner of the city hall was also rejected. 
A third proposal was rejected because the chosen site was that 
occupied by the G. A. R. monument to Civil War veterans. 

Thomas L. Reilly, former mayor, moved that the council be 
requested to appropriate "as much as was necessary of $25,000" 
for the erection of a memorial. 

Additional suggestions for various forms of memorials and 
various sites were appearing frequently, but all fell flat, for one 
reason or another. 

143 



WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL AND BOULEVARD 

Six years had passed, and the city seemed to grow weary of 
argument. No further proposal appeared until May 1928, when 
the plan to make a portion of Broad Street into a Memorial 
Boulevard, and to place a monument at the interesection of Broad 
and East Main Streets was brought to the attention of the 
Chamber of Commerce by Lorenzo Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton had 
drawn plans to accompany his suggestion, and the Chamber's 
directors appointed a committee to take up the matter with Mayor 
Wales L. deBussy. The plans were submitted to the State High- 
way Department, which approved Mr. Hamilton's design. 

Through further conferences between local and state officials, 
agreement was reached for the construction of Memorial Boule- 
vard. The state was already committed to the repaving of Broad 
Street as a state highway, and consented to assume the cost of the 
strip on the east side of the dividing plot in the center of the 
boulevard, assessing the cost of the west side against the city. The 
state would also take and pay for any land needed to widen the 
southeast corner of East Main Street where it intersected with 
Broad Street, and the city agreed to acquire the land needed for 
improving the opposite corner, west of Broad Street. The 
residence of Daniel J. Donovan, which occupied the site where 
the old Central Tavern had stood, had been sold, and was to be 
removed to make room for a gasoline station. The new owners 
came to an agreement with the city which permitted the widening 
of this corner. Nothing further stood in the way of the proposed 
Memorial Boulevard, but the question of the monument was still 
unsettled. 

On January 7, 1929, the council approved the appointment of 
a committee of five aldermen to be known as the World War I 
Memorial Committee, "whose duty it shall be to select a suitable 
memorial and site . . . said committee to have full powers to 
act in any manner in regard to this memorial." 

Mayor deBussey appointed Mrs. Mildred Williams as chairman, 
Alderman Horace F. Doolittle, secretary, and Aldermen Castelow, 
Quinlan and Ficken. The committee's membership was later 
increased by the appointment of 36 other citizens. Additional 
sub-committees were appointed on site, ways and means, the 
memorial, publicity, dedication, and reception. 

The site committee reported favorably on the Broad Street 
location, and on June 11, 1929, the general committee passed the 

144 



WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL AND BOULEVARD 

following vote: 

"that Broad Street from the junction of East Main Street to 
the junction of Curtis and South Broad Streets be adopted as 
Memorial Boulevard and the site of the World War I Memorial, 
and that the memorial itself be placed as near the junction of East 
Main and Broad Streets as practical." 

The council gave the committee power to take the necessary 
steps. The ways and means sub-committee reported that the 
funds should be raised by general taxation and favored the laying 
of a one mill tax for the purpose. The Board of Apportionment 
and Taxation followed this recommendation by laying a half mill 
tax in 1930, with the understanding that the second half mill 
would be applied the following year. 

The contract for the Broad Street route was let to the L. Suzio 
Construction Company of this city, and work was started on 
November 30, 1929 at the north end of the junction of Berlin 
Road and Broad Street. The roadway laid was 20 feet wide, of 
reinforced concrete eight inches thick. The second contract, with 
the same company, was signed June 17, 1930, and provided for 
the central or boulevard section and the cut-off at Yalesville 
leading to the old railroad underpass. The Southern New England 
Telephone Company placed an additional contract for under- 
ground conduits, and the city contracted for the laying of sewers. 
The state contracts amounted to nearly $400,000, the telephone 
company's to $220,000 and the sewer bill to $5,200. 

After inspection of many monuments and designs, the sub- 
committee on the form of the memorial recommended the design 
submitted by the Gorham Company of Providence. A model was 
exhibited, and the design was formally adopted. It was the work 
of sculptor Aristide B. Cianfarani. 

Another decision was made that the names to go on the 
monument should be only those of the war dead, and another 
contract was made with the Gorham Company to erect a Roll of 
Honor on the section of the central parkway strip south of the 
monument. Later, it was proposed that a flagpole be erected 
nearby in honor of the Gold Star mothers, and a committee was 
appointed to investigate this plan. 

The World War I monument consists of a granite column, 
surmounted by a bronze eagle and flanked at its base by four 
bronze statues representing the Doughboy, the Marine, the Sailor 

145 



WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL AND BOULEVARD 

and the Nurse. The granite column is decorated with stars and 
stripes, symbolizing the American flag. The eagle is conceived 
as lighting on the top of the column with a laurel wreath of 
Victory clutched in his talons. On the buttresses beneath each 
statue are inscribed the names of those who died in service. The 
buttress beneath the Doughboy, which faces down East Main 
Street, is inscribed: 

"Dedicated to the Memory of Those from Meriden Who Made 
the Supreme Sacrifice in the Service of Their Country During 
the World War." 

There are four star-embellished bowls mounted on tripods 
which illuminate the monument at night. These tripods are 
mounted on heavy granite pedestals on which are inscribed the 
names of the battles in which the Meriden men participated. The 
extreme height of the monument from the street level is approxi- 
mately 50 feet. The granite for the memorial was quarried at 
Barre, Vermont. 

This striking monument was dedicated November 8, 1930 with 
ceremonies witnessed by thousands. The parade passed in review 
before Governor John H. Trumbull and Major General Clarence 
Edwards, commander of the Yankee Division. The reviewing 
stand was filled with scores of men and women prominent in all 
phases of the community's life. 

Mrs. Mildred R. Williams, general chairman of the memorial 
committee, presented the memorial, which was accepted, after 
unveiling, by Mayor Francis T. Maloney on behalf of the city. 
General Edwards delivered the dedicatory address. 

The monument and the boulevard, overlooked by the two 
historic white churches, constitute a scene which has probably 
been more admired than any other feature of the more thickly 
settled portions of Meriden. It is a scene which appeals at any 
time of day or night, and at any season of the year. The boulevard 
is illuminated by long rows of lights. When the churches are also 
illuminated, the sight is doubly impressive. It is best of all, perhaps, 
at the Christmas season. 

The names of the World War I dead inscribed upon the 
monument under the words "These Laid Down Their Lives" are: 
Leslie H. Anderson James Bambax 

Verner Anderson Fred M. Barsneck 

Norman M. Angevine Leslie C. Bemis 

146 



WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL AND BOULEVARD 



John W. Berberich 
Frank Bonarek 
Constantine J. Bournique 
Felix E. Brenner 
Nicholas Briscoe 
Richard H. Brown 
John B. Bulluss 
Henry G. Burbank 
James C. Call 
Edward Casey 
Homer F. Cashen 
Joseph H. Collins 
Jesse M. Curtis 
Joseph G. Cyphers 
Lorenzo D'Amico 
William DeLuca 
Antonio DeSandre 
John J. Doran 
Frank Dworak 
Joseph H. Felix 
Joseph Ferraro 
John F. Fielding 
Fred J. Gershefski 
David Goldsmith 
Joseph L. Gorman 
Nathan Hale 
Joseph E. Hall 
Leroy C. Higginson 
Nelson Hitchcock 
Charles W. Jackson 
H. Raymond Jopson 
Adam Kaczynski 
Anthony Kalinowski 
Frederick H. Kantack 
Otto C. Ketelhut 
James C. Killeen 
Jesse M. King 
Edward J. Kline 
Joseph Kowalski 



Hugo W. Kruth 
Henry E. LaCroix 
Ernest A. LaRochelle 
Everett E. Learmont 
James V. Lizzi 
Aiichael Louisi 
Edward T. McCarthy 
George C. McKenzie 
Leonard F. Meiklem 
Stanley Mesiak 
Nicholas Mezzanotte 
Joseph A^rozek 
George W. Mueller 
Daniel E. Murdock 
Walter Nalewajek 
Stanley Nurawski 
William L. O'Donnell 
Raphael Paone 
Harold K. Patten 
Walenty Ptak 
H. Leslie Pulver 
William J. Recican 
Arthur A. Rehm 
Earl L. St. Arnauld 
Thomas J. Siaflas 
Horace G. Staniland 
Harlan J. Stretch 
George C. Summer 
John Swider 
Emil J. Tro trier 
William J. Ulbrand 
Joseph C. Underwood 
William H. Washington 
Stanley B. Wheeler 
Henry F. White 
Peter Wieszcholek 
Charles E. Wilkinson 
Harry Wooley 
Emil W. Zabel 



147 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX 



The Depression 



The depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929 
spread rapidly throughout the country. Meriden began to feel 
its effects during the spring and summer of 1930. By January of 
1931, the problem of the unemployed had become acute. Mayor 
Francis T. Maloney proposed a bond issue of $250,000 for financ- 
ing a program of public improvement, which was approved 
unanimously by the council. The approval of the legislature was 
necessary, and, by the time the General Assembly met, other 
programs had begun to take shape. 

A campaign to determine the amount of public work that could 
be done here was undertaken after Mayor Maloney created the 
Research Commission in February 1932. The survey produced a 
figure of $666,253. By September 1932, there were so many 
residents without jobs that a conference of city officials, bankers, 
and manufacturers was called to devise a plan to raise $400,000 
for relief. In October 1932, the council voted a bond issue of 
$200,000 for sidewalks and other improvements. 

On March 4, 1933 came the "bank holiday," when all financial 
institutions were closed. Four days later emergency measures 
were taken by the state legislature. Many banks in the country 
went to the wall, but all of Meriden's financial institutions were 
found to be in sound condition. They were allowed to reopen 
on March 1 3 . 

NRA was set up by the federal government, and pledges 
were issued in accordance with this plan on July 27, 1933. The 
next day the factories here adopted the code, and on July 31a 
group meeting of merchants was held to agree on a code. By 
August, the famous "Blue Eagle" symbol was displayed every- 
where. Two hundred women and 150 men had canvassed for 
converts to the program. For nearly two years, the program was 
generally accepted, but on May 27, 1935 the Supreme Court 
declared it unconstitutional. On December 13, 1935, President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt pronounced NRA at an end, and the 

148 




Meriden Roller Skating Rink 
Formerly near corner of Hanover Street and Randolph A venue 




Early ambulance, Meriden Hospital 





'.M 



■ 
- 

I- 



It- 

Wi 




o 

o 
fa 



3 










First horsecar on Colony Street, 1887 




Burning of the second Town Hall, 1904 



The Meriden Trotting Park 
as it was, off Kensington Avenue 




^AS^JSi^A 



Fruit Pavilion, Meriden Fair Grounds 




Broad Street Fire House 
Horse-drawn fire apparatus in the 90's 




Fire Headquarters 
Pratt Street 




Police Department, 1883 
Left to right: Capt. George Van Nostrand, Chief Frank G. Bolles, 
Roger M. Ford, who succeeded Bolles as Chief 







Chief Michael B. Carroll Pointing to Civil Defense Map 







The Town Hall that burned in 1904 




Stores decorated for the Centennial, 1906 



THE DEPRESSION 

Blue Eagles came down even more rapidly than they had been 
posted. 

As early as 1933, the federal government had to come to the 
aid of distressed home owners. The Home Owners' Loan 
Corporation was opened here on August 28 of that year, and by 
January, 1935 there were 301 HOLC mortgages written for a 
total of $1,201,454. 

The work committee of the Research Commission, consisting 
of Charles N. Flagg, William S. Clark and Paul F. Fagan, was 
actively engaged in devising jobs for the unemployed. A muni- 
cipal employment bureau under DeLloyd E. Beebe as manager 
was set up, and many hundreds of the jobless filed applications. 
The Community Fund set a goal of $119,687 in 1931, with $35,000 
of it as a job fund. The goal was oversubscribed. A benefit card 
party was staged by city employees to help the jobless, and the 
Meriden Teachers Association voted to raise $1250 for the cause. 

Unemployed were set to clearing the reservoirs and salvaging 
firewood for the needy. By permission of the Connecticut Light 
& Power Company the wood was stored at its yard on South 
Colony Street. 

These were bitter years for many, but the city administration, 
under Mayor Maloney, who had been Commissioner of Charities 
before his election as mayor, and who was to go on to a national 
career as U. S. Representative and later U. S. Senator, was doing 
everything possible for the relief of the distressed. Made-work 
projects appeared on every side. The Lewis Avenue dump was 
cleared and later turned into the city athletic field known as 
Columbus Park. Nine additional holes were constructed at the 
municipal golf course, giving employment to nearly 100 men at 
a cost of $28,000. Total placements of the jobless in January, 1932 
amounted to 1,248 out of the 1,870 who had registered by that 
time. In spite of extra grants of $117,933, the city's auditors found 
a surplus of $24,216 in February 1933, and the tax rate was fixed 
at 24% mills, representing a half -mill cut. 

The city, however, was tightening its purse strings in other 
ways, with cuts in the salaries of city employees, including the 
teachers. It was announced in March 1933, that Meriden had been 
able to reduce its bonded indebtedness during a period when 
many other Connecticut cities were in "hot water," and this in 
spite of the fact that more than $500,000 had been spent on public 

149 



THE DEPRESSION 

improvements since the depression began. 

In March 1933, Post No. 45 of the American Legion promoted 
a drive against depression under Capt. W. S. Alexander, then its 
commander. The Legionnaires conducted a citywide survey of 
property owners, who declared themselves ready to spend many 
hundreds of thousands of dollars on improvements and in 
purchases. 

In June 1934, there was a grant of $105,400 for WPA to be 
applied toward building a road through Cat Hole Pass. The road 
was completed at a total cost of $256,621, and was dedicated 
October 9, 1935 as the Chamberlain Highway. In October 1934, 
there was a bond issue of $75,000 and in September 1935, ERA 
and WPA announced appropriations here of $504,853. 

The federal government granted $133,534 in November 1935 
for improvements to the airport in South Meriden. Additional 
allotments included $157,571 for the laying of concrete sidewalks, 
$18,911 to replace old water pipes, $25,996 for new water pipes, 
and $74,090 for concrete curbs. 

The city was making large contributions also. An extra half 
mill was added to the tax rate for relief. The Community Fund 
was called upon to raise large sums after the drive in 1931, which 
provided $35,000 for the purposes of the Research Commission. 
In 1932, the amount was $90,000; the same in 1934, and $40,000 
in 1935, a total of $225,000 from this source. 

WPA hit a high mark in 1938 with 1,100 engaged here under 
this agency. Among the projects were reconstructing the drive to 
West Peak, the start of playgrounds in the north end, repairing 
and oiling of streets, the municipal parking lot on Church Street, 
Kenwood Camp for the Girl Scouts, Washington and Columbus 
Park extensions and improvements, the cleaning of brooks, 
repairing and repainting schools and other public buildings, con- 
struction of new sewer beds, the Washington Park Fieldhouse, 
and others. 

The repairing of Hanover Dam, which had been swept away 
in the hurricane of 1938, caused considerable trouble after it had 
been proposed as a project. WPA approved, but army engineers 
objected to the plans. After work had been started in 1939, a 
"stop order" came through from Washington, and the city had 
to finish the job. 

By May 1937, 127 families had been dropped from relief. By 

150 



THE DEPRESSION 

September the WPA was providing 415 with work, a considerable 
reduction from previous figures. In October 1937, the Murdock 
Avenue water main project was approved for $26,427. The load 
seemed to be eased somewhat until a new crisis of unemployment 
arrived in November. So great was the demand for work that 
the state armory had to be used to accommodate the crowd of 
applicants. By March 1938, 4,048 had applied. Relief expenses 
doubled. Many lost their homes through HOLC foreclosures. In 
the following year, the strain eased. By August, there was a sharp 
decrease in relief costs. By October, the situation had so improved 
that there was actually a shortage of WPA labor. In that year, 
$200,000 in bonds provided money to rebuild streets, and $80,000 
was appropriated for a sewage disposal plant. 

In January 1940, 14 new projects were announced, and WPA 
approved another $48,861 for water mains. But by April of that 
year, WPA rolls were down to 80 persons, and by midsummer a 
labor shortage was reported. 

Employment began to pick up here in November 1939. By 
March 1940, the New Departure Division of General Motors 
announced a 51.1 per cent increase in payrolls. By late 1941, the 
number of employees in 25 of the principal factories had increased 
from 6,508 in 1934 to 10,691, and payrolls had risen from $104,630 
to $450,075 for the same group during that period. Much of this 
increase was due to the defense contracts received by local 
industries. The depression was over, but the country was about 
to enter World War II, with new problems even more serious 
than those which had been left behind. 

Bad as it was, the depression was far less severe in its effects 
here than in many other Connecticut communities, for which 
diversification of industries may be considered partially respon- 
sible. Most factories were able to survive the period. There were 
no bank failures, and business collapses were few. Relief was ably 
administered, and the city's financial stability was never in doubt. 



151 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN 



\^m 



City Government in This Century 

Henry D. Altobello, now serving his second term, is the 28th 
mayor of Meriden since the city was incorporated in 1867. He 
has the honor of presiding in the city's Sesquicentennial year just 
as Thomas L. Reilly, the 18th mayor, had the honor of being the 
chief administrator when the Centennial was observed in 1906. 

The complete succession of Meriden mayors is as follows, 
the date given being the year of election: 1867, Charles S. Parker; 
1869, Russell S. Gladwin; 1870, Isaac C. Lewis; 1872, Charles L. 
Upham; 1874, Horace C. Wilcox; 1876, H. Wales Lines; 1879, 
George R. Curtis; 1881, E. J. Doolittle; 1886, C. H. S. Davis; 
1888, Wallace A. Miles; 1889, Benjamin Page; 1891, A. W. Tracy; 
1892, G. H. Wilson; 1893, Amos Ives; 1899, E. E. West; 1901, 
George Seeley; 1905, Thomas L. Reilly; 1911, Daniel J. Donovan; 
1915, Joseph A. Cooke; 1917, Henry T. King; 1919, Daniel J. 
Donovan; 1921, Henry T. King; 1925, Wales L. deBussy; 1929, 
Francis T. Maloney; 1933, Stephen L. Smith; 1937, Francis R. 
Danaher; 1947, Howard E. Houston; 1951, William J. Cahill, Jr; 
1953, Henry D. Altobello. 

Originally, mayors were elected for a term of one year. The 
term was extended to two years about the turn of the century. 

Daniel J. Donovan, elected in 1911, served two terms, and was 
replaced by Dr. Joseph A. Cooke in 1915. He ran again in 1919, 
and was successful, serving one more term. 

Henry T. King, elected mayor in 1917, served one term, and 
was defeated by Donovan in 1919. In 1921, he was again elected, 
and served two terms. He was defeated by deBussy in 1925. 

These have been men of diverse personalities, of different 
political faiths, and various conceptions of the manner in which 
the office of mayor should be administered. Each man left his 
mark upon Meriden's history, and the present mayor will be no 
exception, for the city is entering upon a new phase of its 
development, with new programs to meet the demands arising 
from its enlargement. 

When Charles Parker began his term, municipal government 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

was housed in the original town hall, sometimes called the "town 
house/' which had been dedicated December 5, 1855, with a 
"Grand Congratulatory Festival." Its placement, on the site of 
the present city hall, had been much disputed. Residents of the 
east side, the oldest section of Meriden, wanted it built on or near 
Broad Street. Residents of rapidly growing West Meriden, where 
the railroad ran, sought just as earnestly to have the city hall 
placed in that section. The East Main Street site, abtfut half-way 
up the hill, was a compromise. As it turned out, the location was 
sensibly chosen — far enough from the business center to avoid 
extreme traffic congestion, yet near enough to the heart of the 
city to be accessible to residents east, west, north, and south. 

The first town hall served until 1889, when evidences were 
found of structural weakness, and it was pronounced unsafe for 
further use. An ornate building, similar in its general appearance 
to the high school annex at the corner of Liberty and Catlin 
Streets, was erected to replace it. In February 1904, this building 
was destroyed by fire. 

A long discussion ensued as to the type of building best suited 
to the needs of expanding city government. The principal ground 
for contention was the proposal to erect an auditorium as part of 
the new city hall. Some considered this feature a needless expense, 
and an injunction was sought to prevent its construction. But the 
opposition was overcome and the plans were carried out, resulting 
in a structure which has been a source of pride for many years. 

In appearance, there are few more appealing public buildings 
in New England, even today. Architecturally, the city hall fits 
perfectly into its setting. The lines are unostentatious, but the 
very simplicity of the design carries its own charm. The gold- 
crested dome, rising above the clock tower, sparkles in the 
sunlight, and the illuminated tower sends out radiance after dark. 
The tall, marble columns flanking the entrance are graceful and 
dignified. Their shafts are solid pieces of stone quarried in 
Vermont. Such columns are generally fluted and in lengthwise 
sections, or, if round, are in sectional blocks pieced together 
horizontally. Architects have been known to visit Meriden just 
to study this feature, which was considered unusual when the 
city hall was constructed and is even more rare today. 

From any angle the building gives an impression of solidity 
and strength. It is unfortunate that the space provided within it 

153 



t 

CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

has become inadequate to the needs of the greatly enlarged city 
departments. 

In the immediate vicinity of the city hall are buildings 
important to the cultural and religious life of the city, including 
the Curtis Memorial Library, the First Methodist Church, Temple 
B'Nai Abraham, St. Andrew's Church and the First Universalist 
Church. The broad sweep of East Main Street, joined by Liberty 
Street, Pleasant Street, and Catlin Street at this point, with 
Norwood Street connecting East Main and Liberty, place the seat 
of municipal government in an island position surrounded by 
streams of converging traffic. The tides of many civic interests 
are naturally drawn toward its shores. 

The city hall cost 1212,000. Under the dual form of government 
still prevailing when it was erected, the city paid $150,000 and the 
town contributed $62,000, which defrayed the cost of the four 
marble pillars and other features of the facade. The building was 
formally accepted by both branches of government in 1907, 
although part of it had been placed in use the previous year. The 
auditorium was rushed to completion to house various portions 
of the Centennial program. 

The population of Meriden at that time was 28,695, and the 
building was designed to serve a maximum population of 35,000. 
It was estimated that this figure would be reached in about 20 
years. By now it has been far exceeded, since current estimates 
place the population at 48,900. 

Many rearrangements of space have failed to solve the problem 
of overcrowding in the city hall. Early in 1956, the mayor 
announced a proposal which, he hopes, will relieve the congestion 
eventually. Under this plan, the police department, the city 
court and the probation department would be moved into the 
old welfare building, once the high school, where the education 
department is now quartered, and where certain high school 
classes are still held. The plan cannot be placed in effect until 
space is gained in the present high school building through the 
construction of a new high school on the west side. 

Under Meriden's form of government the mayor has wide 
powers. As the chief executive officer he appoints the heads of 
departments, with the exception of the education department, 
which is under the elected Board of Education and its appointee, 
the superintendent of schools. He is, ex officio, a member of all 

154 



ClTY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

boards and usually presides at the meetings of the Board of 
Apportionment and Taxation. 

The Court of Common Council is an elective body, made up 
of aldermen elected from each ward. It has the power to make, 
alter, and repeal ordinances, and may take property for public 
use by right of eminent domain, assessing benefits and damages. 
It is also empowered to authorize the treasurer of the city to 
obtain temporary loans and emergency loans. It passes upon bond 
issues, and its approval must be obtained before the annual budget 
of the city can be made effective, following review by the Board 
of Apportionment and Taxation. Regulation of the inspection of 
buildings, inspection of plumbing, inspection of milk and other 
foods, and the licensing of vendors and dealers, are among the 
other powers of the council. The council meets monthly to 
consider the various proposals brought before it, and often refers 
such proposals to committees within its membership for study 
before action is taken. In practice, matters are often decided in 
the caucus which is usually held before each meeting, and the 
vote later is only a formality. 

This system has prevailed since the days of the town meetings, 
which were ended by consolidation of the town and city in 1922. 
In the town meetings, citizens had the privilege of the floor when 
recognized by the moderator, and could present their views. The 
public hearings held today on questions of importance do not take 
the place of the town meeting. The views presented by citizens 
at these hearings are merely for the guidance of the council 
which alone has the power of final action. 

The old system of dual government died hard. The first 
proposal to replace it was made at a regular town meeting in 
1892, when a vote was passed to form a committee to take steps 
toward consolidation. The committee named consisted of Levi E. 
Coe, Seth J. Hall, Wilbur F. Davis, E. A. Merriman, George M. 
Howell, George B. Murdock, Andrew J. Coe and George L. Hall. 
The next town meeting tabled their proposals. 

A new committee was named by a town meeting October 12, 
1896. This committee recommended on January 6, 1897 that a bill 
be introduced in the next General Assembly to authorize the 
consolidation of city and town, but this proposal was defeated. 

In 1899, Mayor Ives appointed a committee to draft a con- 
solidation charter. The committee was authorized to act for the 

155 



CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

city and town in attempting to obtain the approval of this charter 
by the state legislature. On March 9, 1899, a turbulent town 
meeting voted to rescind the action of the previous meeting. The 
committee was instructed to oppose the bill instead of favoring it. 

Again in 1902, a town meeting voted opposition to consolida- 
tion. A committee appointed by Mayor Reilly shortly before the 
Centennial made no headway with the proposal. 

The subject lay dormant until 1913, when a consolidation bill 
was presented to the legislature, but a special town meeting on 
April 9 of that year instructed a committee to inform local 
members of the General Assembly of its opposition to the bill. In 
spite of this, the measure was passed and submitted to local voters 
in a referendum in connection with the regular town election 
October 6, 1913, when the proposal was defeated. 

In the next session of the Assembly a new consolidation charter 
was presented. It drew the specifications for a commission form 
of government, a much more radical proposal than the form 
eventually adopted in 1921. Under this plan, the government 
would consist of a mayor, ten city "directors" or commissioners, 
and the various boards. The selectman's duties were denned as 
extending only to the admission of electors and entering or erasing 
names from the registry lists of voters. Provision was made for 
a city superintendent (whose duties corresponded with those of 
the present city engineer). Other officers included a tax collector 
and a health officer. 

This charter was approved by the state legislature but defeated 
in a local referendum. However, some of its provisions have since 
been adopted, among them the payment of taxes in two install- 
ments, and the creation of a board of charities, now the welfare 
commission, as well as the appointment of a full time health 
officer. 

The final, successful effort for consolidation began in 1919, 
instigated by the Chamber of Commerce. The motivating factor 
was the rescinding by a town meeting of an appropriation passed 
by a previous meeting to defray the expense of war gardens which 
had been promoted by the manufacturers. A large part of the 
sum voted had already been spent when the appropriation was 
snatched away. This action aroused much indignation, and a mass 
meeting was called, under the Chamber's auspices, to take steps 
toward doing away with dual government. Henry C. Bibeau, well- 

156 



CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

known Colony Street grocer, was named chairman of a committee 
appointed to launch the effort. Judge Thomas P. Dunne, Charles 
F. Rockwell and C. R. Gardinor were appointed a sub-committee 
on copying features to be retained from the old charter. The 
general plan was for one tax district to include the whole terri- 
torial area of Meriden. A plan for a school board to consist of 
five members was set up, with candidates to be nominated by 
each party. The executive committee, with Mr. Bibeau at its 
head, consisted of Dr. E. T. Bradstreet, Robert G. Church, C. 
R. Gardinor, Joseph A. Greenbacker, Howard B. Hall, E. E. 
Smith, David Higgins, William J. Luby, Victor E. Lucchini, 
Harry W. Lyman, and William A. Schenck. The legislature 
approved the charter, which was submitted at a special election 
July 12, 1921, when a majority of the local voters gave its 
endorsement. The "thirty years war" for consolidation had ended. 
But it was not long before charter revision again became a live 
issue. 

Under Mayor Stephen L. Smith in 1934 a charter revision 
committee was appointed with Robert M. Dowling, then a 
representative in the state legislature, as its chairman. It was 
non-partisan, with members chosen from both parties. Some of 
the group were sympathetic to a city-manager type of govern- 
ment. Eleven amendments were proposed for submission to the 
legislature, but the effort died, and a dozen years passed before 
a serious study of charter revision was attempted. 

Early in 1948, another charter revision committee was ap- 
pointed, and organized with Foster M. Johnson as its chairman. 
The group voted on February 20 to ask city officials and others 
to submit recommendations for charter changes not later than 
April 1. It also voted to bring all proposed changes before the 
Court of Common Council, urging that public hearings be held. 
The committee early announced that it favored consolidation of 
the two tax districts, with one tax rate for the entire city in 
preference to the system, still in vogue, of two tax districts with 
a lesser tax rate in the outer district. It also discussed the city- 
manager form of government. Proposals for a full-time fire 
marshal and a permanently appointed building inspector have 
since been adopted. 

In May, the committee decried the apparent lack of local 
interest in charter revision. It sent out a questionnaire in an effort 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

to collect public opinion on controversial points. One change 
favored was to hold city elections in November at the same time 
as state and national elections, instead of in December. Public 
hearings were held as recommended. Group meetings heard well 
qualified speakers discuss the subject. Francis R. Danaher, former 
mayor, opposed holding a referendum on consolidation on the 
date of the national election, preferring a special election. Howard 
E. Houston was then mayor, but Mr. Danaher, at the beginning 
of his last term, had pronounced in favor of consolidation of the 
two tax districts. 

On July 6, 1948, acting on a recommendation from the 
committee, the council voted to hold a special election, but set 
Tuesday, December 7, as the date. The proposals were voted 
down, but the question was not dead. 

The charter revision committee continued its efforts. Mr. 
Johnson appeared before the cities and boroughs committee of 
the legislature on March 13, 1951 to explain a series of bills which 
had been introduced to bring about revision. Controversial 
provisions were submitted as separate bills. Special attention was 
given to Section 9 of the charter. In the opinion of bonding 
companies, this section was so worded that it interfered with 
bonding for improvements, other than schools, in the outer tax 
district. When the present charter was drawn in 1921, the first 
or outer district consisted largely of farm lands, and it was felt 
that a lower tax rate was justified for this type of property. A 
more equitable distribution of the cost of fire and police pro- 
tection was considered desirable by the committee. 

On June 14, 1951, Gov. John Lodge signed five bills to be 
voted on in a Meriden referendum on June 26. The first covered 
the question of the World War II Veterans Memorial Hospital. 
Next came the codification of the charter with changes which 
had been inserted by the Democratic senate. Another bill covered 
the change in election dates from December to November. The 
consolidation of the tax districts and the creation of a parking 
authority completed the list of measures to be submitted to the 
local electorate. 

Under state law, 5 1 per cent of the qualified voters had to cast 
ballots in the referendum before the majority endorsement of any 
bill could be accepted as placing the measure in effect. This 
meant, as it turned out, that more than 6,200 votes of those cast 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

here had to be in favor of the revised charter and the parking 
authority. More than 24,600 persons here were eligible to vote. 
Former A4ayor Henry T. King urged a "no" vote on all five 
questions. He said that charter revision could be attained through 
a few simple amendments, and saw "jokers" in the bills proposed. 
Consolidation of the tax districts, he thought, should be fought 
out as a separate issue. 

The codification proposal was defeated in the June referendum, 
although the voters did approve a more equitable apportionment 
of fire and police expenditures between the two districts, thus 
opening the way to gradual consolidation. The results of the vote 
on the five proposals in a second referendum that fall included 
approval of the building of the Memorial Hospital with the city 
to supply part of the funds, approval of the change in election 
date, defeat of the revised charter, defeat of the extension of the 
second distirct, and a tie vote on the question of a parking 
authority. In the second referendum, only 7,000 votes were cast 
on these questions, although more than 18,000 voted on the 
candidates whose names were submitted in the regular election 
held on the same date. Charter revision had been defeated twice 
in one year. 

In June 1954, Mayor Henry D. Altobello, then in his first term, 
declared the appointment of a new charter revision committee 
unnecessary, as the recommendations made by the committee 
headed by Mr. Johnson could be presented to the legislature 
with few changes, wherever it was considered advisable to do so. 

Section 9 remained as a stumbling block to improvements in 
the outer district, and this obstacle was seen as even more serious 
because of the need to extend a sewer and water main to the 
new plant which the International Silver Company is constructing 
on South Broad Street. The impediment was removed when, on 
December 1, 1955, in a special flood relief session of the legislature, 
the cities and boroughs committee reported favorably on an 
amendment to Section 9. The bill, introduced by State Senator 
William J. Cahill, former mayor, was passed the following week 
and signed by Gov. Abraham RibicofT. It permits the extension 
of sewer and water mains into the outer district without restric- 
tions. 

Although many of the changes in the charter sought by the 
various committees mentioned have been adopted, through 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

evolutionary processes, the charter in its published form remains 
as it was in 1931. In that year it was printed as a paperbound 
book by authority of the city. The second section contained all 
the by-laws in force December 1, 1931, and this section, much 
of which had become obsolete, did undergo complete revision. 
In 1950, a clothbound book was published by order of the 
council, containing the general ordinances of the city enacted as 
a whole March 6, 1950, and effective May 1 of that year. This 
book is entitled The Code of the City of Meriden, Connecticut. 

The administrative officers of the city consist of the mayor, 
the city and town clerk, the comptroller, the treasurer, the tax 
collector, the chief of police, the chief of the fire department, the 
superintendent of fire and police signal services, the city engineer, 
the superintendent of public works, the superintendent of schools, 
the director of the Curtis Memorial Library, the superintendent 
of recreation, the superintendent of public welfare, the health 
officer, the food and milk inspector, the restaurant and housing 
inspector, the corporation counsel, the building inspector, the 
fire marshal, the judge of probate, the judge of the city and police 
courts, the deputy judge of the city and police courts, the city 
attorney, the assistant city attorney, the clerk of the city and 
police courts, the probation officer, the city sheriffs, the pound 
keeper and dog warden, the sealer of weights and measures, the 
tree warden, the superintendent of parks, and the chief clerk of 
the board of assessors. 

The boards and commissions are the Board of Apportionment 
and Taxation, the Board of Public Safety, the City Planning 
Commission, the Board of Plumbing and Heating Examiners, the 
Welfare Commission, the Board of Electrical Examiners, the 
Board of Oil Burner Examiners, the Park and Recreation Com- 
mission, the Board of Trustees of the Memorial Hospital, the 
Board of Public Works, the Health Board, the Meriden Housing 
Authority, the Parking Authority, the Library Board, the Aviation 
Commission, the Board of Education, the School Building Com- 
mittee, the Board of Building Commissioners, the Public Cele- 
brations Commission, the Francis Maloney Scholarship Com- 
mittee, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Jury Commission, the 
Citizens Committee on Sub-Standard Housing, the Investigation 
Committee on Comic Books, the Civil Defense Council and the 
Board of Assessors. 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

The Court of Common Council is made up of 20 members, 
four from each of the five wards. Its standing committees are 
finance, by-laws, street, printing, claims, license, water, lighting, 
fire-police, parks-recreation, Memorial Hospital, and sewer. 

A few of the commissions were created to deal with special 
situations, and have become inactive since the particular need 
was covered. But the majority of the boards meet regularly and 
have much to do. Their composition is likely to change with each 
incoming administration, although mayors in recent years have 
tended to retain or to appoint a certain number of commissioners 
not of their own party. The Board of Apportionment and 
Taxation is non-partisan, with an equal number of Republicans 
and Democrats and some members not registered in any political 
party. 

The City Clerk 

One of the busiest and most important offices in the City Hall is 
that of the city clerk, Miss Ruth E. Payne, who has held that 
position, uncontested at elections, for many years. In her charge 
are all the vital statistics of the city's population, both births and 
deaths, as well as all records of real estate transactions, including 
purchases of property, sales and transfers. These records, with 
the exception of births and choses in action, are open to the public. 
Lawyers and newspaper reporters must consult them frequently. 
The land records stored in the city clerk's vaults date back to 
the year when the town government was established, 1806 and, 
in at least one case, even earlier. The first birth recorded was that 
of Homer Foster, born to Matthew and Charlotte Foster, April 
12, 1806, and the first property transfer was from Moses Barnes 
to Eli Barnes, August 24, 1804. The office also issues the required 
licenses for marriages, dog licenses, and hunting and fishing 
licenses. Its duties multiply each year. In only one respect has 
the city's clerk's work decreased. She need no longer conduct 
title searches and make out legal papers connected with such 
searches. These tasks are now performed by lawyers and pro- 
fessional title searchers who require frequent access to the records 
on file. 

The Department of Health 
The Department of Health, under Dr. John E. Stoddard, director, 

161 



CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

has more than 20 employees, including physicians, health nurses, 
dentists, dental hygienists, sanitary inspectors, and a secretary. 

The immunization program of the department ranges from 
kindergarten through high school, and a program for adminis- 
tering Salk vaccine against infantile paralysis was set up last year. 

School cafeterias are inspected monthly. Food sanitation is an 
important feature of the department's work, and public eating 
establishments are visited regularly. Many recommendations for 
the protection of public health are made annually. 

Meriden Housing Authority 

The Meriden Housing Authority, created in 1943, consisting of 
five commissioners and an executive director, has charge of the 
public housing projects of Johnson Farms, Yale Acres, and 
Chamberlain Heights, all erected with state aid. The Gale Terrace 
project, built during World War II to relieve a pressing need, was 
continued after the war for a much longer period than had been 
contemplated when it was planned. Consisting of temporary 
housing units, it was intended for short-term occupancy. The 
units were finally vacated and cleared in 1955. 

Welfare Commission 

The Welfare Commission is under Charles L. O'Brien, superin- 
tendent, and deals with cases requiring relief. It has charge of 
Cold Spring Home. Heavily loaded during the depression, the 
pressures upon the department have diminished greatly since that 
time, and the city's contributions toward the support of distressed 
families and individuals have fallen year by year. 

Board of Public Works 

Fred H. Edwards is director of public works and C. Perry Prann 
is city engineer. The department has more than 100 employees. It 
has charge of the maintenance of the city's streets, bridges, basins 
and drains, snow clearance, trimming and removal of trees, 
garbage collection, dump maintenance, sewers, and sewage 
treatment. 

Water Department 

The Water Department, also under the Board of Public Works, 
has charge of the city's water system, and the reading of water 
meters, as well as their installation. 

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city government in this century 

Engineering Department 

The Engineering Department makes all surveys, maps, and profiles 
for the establishment and record of all streets, buildings, walks, 
curb lines and grades. It prepares reports for the Board of Public 
Works, and the sewer and street committees of the Court of 
Common Council, and also assigns house numbers whenever 
applied for. The department is also responsible for keeping the 
assessors' maps up-to-date. 

Board of Assessors 

Robert H. Hallbach is chief clerk of the Board of Assessors, 
which records duplicates of all building permits and appraises 
the value of local property, both real and personal. It must inspect 
new buildings covered by permits, and furnishes the information 
from which the Grand List is made up. 

The Board of Tax Review hears the complaints of aggrieved 
taxpayers and decides as to whether taxable lists shall be reduced. 

The Zoning Board of Appeals holds public hearings on appli- 
cations for variances submitted in accordance with the zoning 
laws and general statutes. 

Comptroller, Treasurer, Auditors 

Matthew P. Kuta is city comptroller and Harold H. Flynn is 
city treasurer. 

The office submits an accounting for General Fund operations 
each year. It records cash receipts and disbursements, and handles 
the city's payroll. It also examines the tax collector's transactions, 
and is responsible generally for the administration of the city's 
finances. Thomas J. Moroney is tax collector. Tax bills, issued in 
the spring, are payable in two installments. 

The accounts of the city are audited annually by a firm of 
certified public accountants. 

Police Department In 1956 

The Police Department is headed by Chief Michael B. Carroll, 
who became chief August 1, 1932. It consists of 88 superiors and 
patrolmen and 25 active supernumeraries. Fifty years ago, the 
force was composed of 18 men. 
Chief Carroll is the 12 th chief to serve since the appointment 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

of William Hagadon as the first chief in 1886. When he took 
command of the department, there were no police cruisers, no 
teletype machine, no radio system and only three telephones for 
police use. 

Today the department has seven police cars, of which one is 
used by the chief and another by the Detective Bureau headed 
by Capt. Walter L. Kurcon, who is also deputy chief. 

The department now has a teletype machine and its own radio 
system for communication with the cruisers equipped with two- 
way radios. An important phase of police work is fingerprinting. 
The National Bureau of Identification was started in 1928, and 
the Meriden department became a contributing member. 

In 1928, when the direction of automobile traffic had become 
a serious problem, the department was equipped with automobiles 
and motorcycles to facilitate the work. Today it has a parking 
meter division, with a station wagon used in the collection of 
coins from parking meters. It also has three specially designed 
motorcycles to help in checking on parking violators. 

The Police and Fire Signal Department is headed by Capt. 
Charles Zimmer, who has charge of the installation and mainten- 
ance of traffic lights, the signal system, and road signs. 

A recent creation is the Records Division, headed by Lt. Lewis 
V. Aloia as superintendent of records. 

The functions of the department have multiplied many times 
in recent years. In addition to traffic control and the investigation 
of major and minor crimes and nuisances, it handles school patrol, 
the policing of fires, investigation of traffic accidents, accidental 
deaths and suicides, escort duty, search for missing persons, 
obtaining physicians in emergencies, and furnishing testimony in 
court. 

Fire Department In 1956 

The Meriden Fire Department in this Sesquicentennial year is 
composed of 72 full-time officers and men, headed by Fire Chief 
Leonard A. Petrucelli, who was born in 1906, when the city 
celebrated its Centennial. 

The department consists of five companies: Engine Company 
Three, Broad Street; Engine Company Four, Colony Street; 
Engine Company One, Butler Street, and Engine Company Two 
and Truck Company One, fire headquarters, Pratt Street. 

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CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

The motorization of the department began in 1910, and by 1913 
it had been completed. The five horses were replaced by 
mechanized apparatus. The age of horse-drawn fire engines had 
passed, never to return. 

In 1913, the department had a ladder truck, a Webb pumper 
manufactured in 1910, a Pope-Hartford fire engine and two 
American LaFrance trucks. 

Today it has eight vehicles for fighting fires, the oldest a 1930 
American LaFrance pumper. The latest purchases were two 1955 
pumpers of the same make. 

The present 75-foot aerial ladder truck is of 1932 vintage. 
However, the city has an appropriation of $32,000 for the 
purchase of a new aerial truck. The chief's car, a 1947 sedan, will 
be replaced during the current year. 

The Fire Department now has 72 regular firemen and a number 
of substitutes. Of the regulars, five are engaged in duties other 
than the actual fighting of fires. One is Fire Marshal Joseph R. 
Rogoz. Another is Deputy Fire Marshal Capt. Harry Drucquer, 
and the other three are connected with the Police Fire and Signal 
Department. They are Capt. Leonard Gudain and Firemen 
Rodney Zimmer and Theodore Burdacki. 

The rest of the men compose "the fire force," to use Chief 
Petrucelli's term. 

Twelve men are permanently assigned to each fire station 
(exclusive of headquarters), plus four substitutes. At fire head- 
quarters there are 15 regulars plus four substitutes. At head- 
quarters, also, are stationed the chief and three assistant chiefs. 

A two-platoon system was introduced in 1924. After 12 
working days, a fireman had a full day off. This plan replaced a 
system under which a fireman was stationed at a firehouse day 
and night, and was allowed to go home twice a day for meals 
and to attend church services on Sunday. 

In October 1951, the three-platoon system was installed. Fire- 
men now work 56 hours per week, alternating on a schedule of 
three days and three nights, with off-duty time in the interim. 

Fire Chief Petrucelli is on call around the clock, and answers 
all box alarms. His driver is always posted on the whereabouts of 
the chief. 

The Meriden Fire Department is today efficient and well- 
organized. Its effective work has received many compliments 

165 



CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

locally and from municipal officials in other communities. Like 
the Police Department, it is under the jurisdiction of the Board 
of Public Safety, which makes the appointments and promotions 
in the department besides fixing policies and deciding on questions 
of discipline. 

The Building Department 

The Building Department, under the building inspector, is 
heavily loaded with work as a result of the tremendous increase 
in building here. Permits are required for all types of construction, 
which must be in conformance with city regulations. Properties 
are inspected while under construction. Under a revised building 
code, recently approved by the council, boards of examiners have 
been created for all trades to insure competence of workmen. The 
examiners have been appointed by the mayor, and copies of the 
new code are now available to tradesmen. 

Maloney Memorial Scholarship 

Senator Francis Maloney served the city of Meriden and the 
nation faithfully and brilliantly, first as mayor of Meriden, then 
as Congressman from this district, and later as United States 
Senator. The beginning of the new year of 1945 found Meriden 
people infinitely saddened by the Senator's sudden and untimely 
death. Immediately a citywide desire to establish a special and 
significant memorial to this distinguished native son took shape. 

Mayor Francis Danaher appointed a Maloney Memorial com- 
mittee under chairmanship of Dr. James F. Walsh to explore the 
various proposals offered. Upon the recommendation of this 
committee a petition was submitted to the Court of Common 
Council at its April 2, 1945 meeting, and unanimously adopted. 
It provided for the establishment of the Francis Maloney 
Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500 annually for four 
years to be granted each year to a properly selected Meriden 
resident qualified to continue the type of higher education of his 
or her personal selection. 

The question of legality of this unique memorial whereby the 
city would be pledging $2000 for all future years, once the full 
quota of deserving students should be recipients of the scholar- 
ship, had to be settled. On May 17, 1945 the Connecticut Assembly 
suspended its rules and passed bills presented by Senator Harold 

166 



CITY GOVERNMENT IN THIS CENTURY 

C. Hall and Representatve William Jacobs authorizing the city of 
Meriden to establish the scholarship in perpetuity. 

Accordingly, in October of the same year, Mayor Danaher 
appointed the first Maloney Scholarship committee of five with 
Dr. Walsh its chairman. In 1946 the first Meriden High graduate 
was selected for the honor. Each succeeding year has seen a local 
boy or girl accepting the grant and the responsibility attendant 
upon its acceptance. 

The scholarship plan was originated because of Senator 
Maloney's personal feelings on the subject of sufficient formal 
education as preparation for life. He was forced to become self- 
supporting and to assume partial support for others in his family 
before he could finish high school. He never ceased to feel that 
his shortened years of schooling constituted a lack in himself. 
Life and experience and his extraordinarily keen mind had more 
than compensated, but it remained his regret. 

Consequently the scholarship was offered to perpetuate his 
memory and in the belief that it would, and will continue to 
encourage young men and women of outstanding ability to 
emulate Senator Maloney's character and to follow in his footsteps 
of great and wise public service. The memorial is unique in its 
character and unprecedented in the record of municipal action. 
It has been widely acclaimed by leaders in the field of national 
public service impressed by Meriden's independence of action and 
selectivity in designing a tribute to the man who was known in 
Washington as the "Senator's Senator." 



167 



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT 



Local Industry Since 1900 

The industrial picture of Meriden at the beginning of the new 
century included many details which have since been erased by 
the changing course of events. But the substantial elements remain 
unimpaired. The firms which have vanished into the misty past 
have been replaced by others, painted in strong new colors. The 
total number represented has been greatly increased, and the total 
output has been multiplied many times. 

Industries in 1900 were in a transition stage, from old to new 
methods of production. Water power, by which the wheels of the 
earliest factories were turned, had been replaced by steam power, 
and many plants had already converted from steam power to 
electric power. Industrial leaders were looking ahead and studying 
ways and means of meeting competition with better quality 
products made as economically as possible. The basic materials 
used here were wood, ivory, bone, horn, iron, steel, copper, lead, 
zinc, nickel, tin, silver, gold and glass. Alloys were still in their 
infancy, but were applied as experimentation proved their worth. 

The automobile industry was newly born, but showing 
evidences of healthy growth. The internal combustion engine 
had great potentials, it was recognized. It might, in time, supply 
the new power factor needed. 

The success of Meriden's Centennial observance gave the city 
new confidence. The new model automobiles seen in the parades 
of 1906 had more significance than the novelty of the spectacle. 
They were the heralds of an entirely new enterprise with 
enormous possibilities of growth in which Meriden later would 
share. 

The list of factories in Meriden at the time of the Centennial, 
with the years of their establishment, follows: 

A. H. Jones, 1901; Jennings & Griffin, 1880; the Kelsey Com- 
pany, 1872; Edward Miller Co., 1844; Meriden Cutlery Company, 
1855; C. F. Monroe Co., 1886; Meriden Curtain Fixture Co., 1869; 
Miller Bros. Cutlery Co., 1870; Meriden Fire Arms Co., 1905; 
Manning Bowman & Co., 1872; Morehouse Bros., 1898; Meriden 

168 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

Braid Co., 1906; Meriden Machine & Tool Co., 1889; J. J. Niland 
Co., 1902; Elias Oefinger, 1900; Charles Parker Co., 1832; M. B. 
Schenck Co., 1887; Silver City Glass Co., 1905; Charles E. Schu- 
nack Co., 1891; Wilcox & White Co., 1887; Frank Wheeler & 
Son, 1889; F. J. Wallace, 1876; Wm. Wheeler Co., 1891; Webster 
& Brigmann, 1891; Helmschmied Mfg. Co., 1903; A. J. Hall Co., 
1899; Foster, Merriam & Co., 1850; Fritz Bros., 1903. 

Before the entry of America into World War I, a new class of 
production had become established. Soon after the war began in 
Europe, it became apparent that the United States would be called 
upon to supply large amounts of war materials to the combatant 
nations. 

As it became apparent that this country would be drawn into 
the conflict, preparations of a defensive nature became urgent, 
and the government began to issue large contracts for armaments 
to equip its own forces. Other classes of products were needed 
also, as the armed services grew. Before the war ended in 1918, 
most Meriden industrial firms were fully engaged in war pro- 
duction, and many companies which could not be strictly 
classified as industrial, were contributing largely to the war effort 
through the service of supply. Among them were many mentioned 
previously in this chapter, and some established after 1906. A 
survey, made especially for this volume, records the names of 
A. H. Jones; the Jennings & Griffin Mfg. Company; the Kelsey 
Co.; Julius Katt; Kennedy & Ragone Co.; Wm. J. Luby; Landers, 
Frary & Clark (purchased the Meriden Cutlery Co. in 1919); S. 
C. Lewis (wood planing and turning); Edward Miller Co.; 
Meriden Cutlery Co.; C. F. Monroe Co.; Miller Bros. Cutlery Co. 
(succeeded by the Meriden Knife Co.) ; Manning, Bowman & Co.; 
Meriden Gravure Co.; Morehouse Bros.; Max Merklinger; 
Meriden Press & Drop Co. (established 1911, successor to A. H. 
Merriman) ; Merriam Metal Patterns and Model Works; Meriden 
Braid Co. (succeeded by Pioneer Braid Co.); Meriden Optical & 
Jewelry Co.; Meriden Jewelry Mfg. Co. (established 1914); 
Meriden Machine & Tool Co.; J. J. Niland Co.; New England 
Pottery Co.; New England Westinghouse Co. (in war pro- 
duction 1916 to 1918, followed by the Colt Patent Firearms 
Co. in the same building, now the International Silver Com- 
pany's north end plant); Elias Oefinger; the Charles Parker 
Company; The Penfield Mfg. Company (established 1911 to 

169 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

make automobile spotlights); the Peerless Mfg. Company (estab- 
lished 1917 to manufacture brass articles); the H. E. Rainaud 
Company (1913 to 1929); Rockwell Silver Co.; Remo Co.; M. B. 
Schenck Co. (a division of the Bassick Company in 1917; removed 
in 1928); Silver City Glass Co.; Charles E. Schunack Co.; Saviteer 
Memorial Works; J. H. Sanderson (electroplating); Tredennick 
Paint Mfg. Company; W. H. Thompson Candy Co.; Tillinghast 
Silver Co.; Henry B. Todd (X-ray machines and appliances); 
Universal Music Co. (music rolls and records); Vacuum Specialty 
Co.; Vocalion Organ Co.; Wilcox & White Co. (closed 1921; 
recording laboratory and studios open until 1925); Frank Wheeler 
& Sons; F. J. Wallace (saddlery hardware); Wolf's New Process 
Abrasive Wheel, Inc. (1919); Wm. Wheeler Co. (photoen- 
graving); White, Bottrell & Page Co. (printing); Webster & 
Brigmann (glass cutters); Waterbury Clock Co. (branch); 
Andrew Young & Sons (machine tools); Doolittle Box Co. (1918; 
purchased by J. R. Hall 1930). 

The Meriden Electric Light Company and the Meriden Gas 
Light Company, then operated as separate companies, were 
naturally all-important to the war effort as sources of light and 
fuel. 

Some concerns arrived shortly after the war period, just too 
late to play a part in war production here. The principal company 
to be noted in this class is New Departure, which began pro- 
ducing in Meriden in 1920. Lemke & Reiske, metal work, was 
established in 1924. The Meriden Rug Company, now the Perry 
Rug Company, began business in 1929. Handley Bros. Co., 
founded in 1922, was part of the local business picture until 1949. 

Production of goods for civilian consumption was resumed soon 
after the war, and proceeded in growing volume until the 
depression — dealt with in another chapter — began to curtail 
demand. There were some industrial casualties in the years which 
followed, among them the Handel Company, lamp manufacturers, 
established in 1883. The factory ceased operations about 1935, 
and the corporation was officially terminated in 1941. But in the 
meantime, other companies had arrived to occupy most of the 
building. 

Most of the companies previously mentioned, which had 
played a part in World War I production and supply, had 
another opportunity to serve as contributors to the new effort 

170 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

which began as World War II loomed. By that time, there were 
additional concerns to augment local industry, including wholesale 
supply and other forms of business outside the retail picture. 
Among them were Goodman Bros., who moved into the former 
Morehouse Bros, plant; Miller-Johnson, Inc. (established 1936); 
the Meriden Buffing Company; Mero Mfg. Co. (established 
1926); Metallic Potters Co.; Mederick Marchand; Meriden Wire- 
frame Co.; Monowatt Electric Corp.; Nutmeg Press; Ellmore 
Silver Co. (established 1924); the General Electric Company 
(branch factory established here in 1931, removed in 1948); 
Packer Machine Co., automatic buffing and polishing machinery, 
(established 1925); the W. J. Packer Mfg. Company; Charles W. 
Parker, printer; Phillips Mfg. Company (established 1929); Rich 
Display and Plastics (established 1929); Rockwell Silver Co.; H. 
E. Rainaud Co.; Rubber Specialty Co.; Herco Art Mfg. Co. 
(1927-1944; successor to H. E. Rainaud Co., now in Wallingford); 
John R. Sexton Co., tinsel cord (established 1927); Henry E. 
Shiner Co.; Storts Welding Co.; Standard Cutlery Co.; J. 
SchaefTer Co., lamp shades; Tillinghast Silver Co.; Hyman Tanger 
Co.; Lutz Co., silver products (1947-1952); Lambson Specialty 
Co. (established 1942); Meriden Bedding Co.; Oregon Silver 
Co. (established 1941); Puffe Tool and Die Co.; N. W. Parks Co. 
(purchased C. E. Schunack Co. in 1944); Production Equipment 
Co. (established 1939); Price Pattern Shop; James E. Bunting, Jr.; 
Brooklyn Thermometer Co.; R. Bemont & Son; Chandler-Evans 
Corp. (established 1940, removed 1945); Sonora Record Co. (sold 
to Connecticut Record Mfg. Company, removed 1948); Con- 
necticut Gas Products; Daylight Mfg. Company; Franklin Dress 
Co. (established 1941); G. H. French & Co.; T. D. Hotchkiss 
Co.; W. H. Leaman Co.; Meriden Electroplating & Finishing Co.; 
Albert Mitchell; Meriden Welding Co.; R. & H. Machine Shop 
(1943-1956); Shaw Paper Box Co.; Vincenzo Torchia; Frank M. 
Whiting Co. (1939); E. C. Wilcox Corp.; F. L. Waller Co.; 
Youngberg Bros. 

Among the companies which have entered the local field since 
the end of World War II are the Meriden Foundry Company, in 
1946; Meriden Precision Screw Products in 1947; the Muirson 
Label Company, which took over the former Chandler-Evans 
plant in South Meriden in 1949 after it had been vacated by the 

171 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

Nestle Lemur Company, which had occupied it from 1945; Rose 
Window Products in 1950. 

Larger Industries 

The International Silver Company 

The alliance of silver manufacturing concerns which had taken 
place in the last decade of the 19th century was in a strong 
position in 1900 to proceed to even greater gains. As the Inter- 
national Silver Company, the consolidation had attained the 
advantage of unified corporate management, and the best experi- 
ence of each concern could be exploited for the benefit of all, 
while weaker spots could be strengthened or else incised. 

George H. Wilcox, first vice president when the new concern 
was organized, succeeded to the presidency in 1907, and served in 
that office until 1928, when he became chairman of the board. 
Under him, the company made steady, consistent progress in 
expanding sales and improving manufacturing processes. He died 
in 1940. 

Clifford R. Gardinor, who had been Mr. Wilcox's assistant for 
seven years, was elected president in 1928. He had joined the 
company in 1909 as purchasing agent. His death occurred in 1935. 

Vice President Evarts C. Stevens, who had come up from the 
bench in the silverware industry, was elected to succeed Mr. 
Gardinor. His elder brother, Frederick M. Stevens, and his 
younger brother, Maltby Stevens, were among his executive 
associates. The Stevens family had a long tradition of silver- 
making, dating back to the earliest days of the industry. 

The new president set up an organization in which Executive 
Vice President Roy C. Wilcox, elder son of George H. Wilcox, 
was made responsible for the purchasing and traffic departments 
in addition to other specific duties. 

From 1915 until his death in 1928, George D. Munson had 
been active in the company, serving as a member of the executive 
committee and first vice president, and taking part in general 
management. His son, Vice President Craig D. Munson, was made 
general sales manager, responsible to the president. Alpeck 
Zeitung, director of flatware sales, now retired, had charge of the 
general advertising department as one of his responsibilities. 
Horace C. Wilcox, younger son of "G. H.," was made director 

172 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

of hollo ware sales. Herbert J. Reeves, who has since retired, was 
in charge of the controller's office. He was succeeded in this 
position by George L. Stringer. 

Important changes in top management have taken place during 
the last five years. On January 31, 1951, Maltby Stevens was 
elected president of the company to succeed his brother, Evarts 
C. Stevens, who was named chairman of the board of directors. 
Maltby Stevens had been in charge of all the manufacturing 
operations of the company for a number of years, and had made 
an outstanding record in handling war production. Lee F. Revere 
succeeded him in charge of manufacturing operations, and was 
elected a vice president in March 1951. 

Maltby Stevens died June 29, 1955, having served only a little 
more than four years as president of the company with which he 
had been connected from early youth. 

On July 27 last year, Craig D. Munson of Wallingford was 
elected president. Previously, he had been vice president for sales. 
He joined the company in 1920, was made advertising manager 
of the sterling division in 1924, and became manager of that 
division and a company director in 1928. In 1929 he was made a 
member of the executive committee, and was elected vice presi- 
dent for sales in 1935. 

To succeed Mr. Munson in charge of sales, John B. Stevens, 
son of Evarts Stevens, was elected vice president, director and 
executive committee member. He became affiliated with the 
company in 1939 as manager of the statistical department, held 
several managerial positions, and became general sales manager of 
wholesale lines in 1954, the position which he held at the time of 
his elevation to the new office. 

Many changes in manufacturing methods have taken place in 
the silver industry during this century. The Rogers Bros, of 1847 
did their silverplating in a little tank holding only five or six 
gallons of solution. The silver did not cling to the base material 
as it does today. Occasionally, peeling took place. Now the plating 
is done in 3,000-gallon tanks, and the process is completed within 
a much shorter time, due to the stepping-up of the electrical 
output, which has been multiplied 600 times over the amount of 
current originally fed. The cleaning operation is sufficiently 
thorough to hold the silverplate permanently, but mild enough 
not to destroy the finely buffed finish of the base metal. A system 

173 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

of solution, agitation and racking, plus laboratory control of the 
solution's composition, enables the operator to make the silver- 
plate heavier on the parts most subject to wear. 

In 1923, the company purchased the Meriden Malleable Iron 
plant to become the center of its cutlery departments, moved 
there from Factory H. A modern electric casting and rolling 
mill was erected at the north end. The Wilcox & Evertsen sterling 
factory was transferred to the remodeled building on North 
Colony Street. 

In 1928, International took over E. G. Webster & Son and 
moved its operations from Brooklyn to Meriden. A year later, 
LaPierre Mfg. Company of Newark, N. J. was moved to Walling- 
ford. By 1932, the buildings on Colony Street, at the intersection 
of Cross Street, which had originally been used by the Meriden 
Silver Plate Company and the Barbour Silver Plate Company, 
were remodeled into the Sales Service Institute. The plant in 
Derby was closed in 1935, and in the same year the company took 
over the American Silver Company in Bristol. The plant in 
Waterbury, which had been producing flatware as Rogers & 
Brother since 1858, was closed, but the line was continued. 

The story of International's production during World War II 
is a story in itself. The conversion from peacetime to wartime 
efforts began in 1940, when silverware production in Meriden 
and Wallingford was almost at a peak. By June of 1943, the 
company was engaged practically 100 per cent in war production. 
The products were numerous and varied, ranging from incendiary 
bombs to surgical instruments. During this period, the company 
and its workers won many awards for their contribution to the 
war effort. 

Readjustment of the whole pattern of production became 
necessary once more after the war ended, and was accomplished 
with a minimum of disclocations. By October 1945, the company 
was delivering substantial quantities of its normal lines. 

In 1947, construction of a new plant to house flatware produc- 
tion was started north of Wallingford, just off route 5. It was 
opened in 1949, and is considered the most modern plant of its 
type in the world. 

To meet the demands of defense production, the company has 
built a $1,500,000 addition to its new Factory A in Wallingford. 
It was constructed especially to handle contracts for component 

174 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

parts for jet engines. Machinery and equipment were furnished 
by the government, but the plant is owned by the company. 

In February 1950 it was announced that International had 
obtained an option on 35 acres of land on South Broad Street, 
known as the Watrous farm, just within the city limits of 
Meriden. A zoning variation was sought to permit the erection 
of a new plant and an administration building on this site, and 
the Court of Common Council on March 7, 1950 unanimously 
voted for the change required. Ground was broken on September 
6, 1955, but a further step was necessary before construction 
could proceed. A new interpretation of Section 9 of the City 
Charter had to be obtained from the state legislature to permit 
the extension of sewer and water facilities to the site. Through 
the efforts of Mayor Altobello and Meriden legislators this was 
achieved last year without the necessity of a referendum. In the 
construction permit the cost of the plant was placed at $4,000,000. 
Eventually all the offices and production will be moved from 
State Street to the new location. 

New Departure Division of General Motors 

The New Departure Division of General Motors, which began 
operations here in 1922, manufactures anti-friction ball bearings 
for a wide variety of uses. It employs approximately 4,000 persons 
and has contributed much to the city's growth and prosperity. 

Meriden is one of the three cities in which this division of 
General Motors operates. The parent plant is in Bristol, where 
the business was founded in 1888. Another plant in Sandusky, 
Ohio, was opened in 1946. 

The company acquired the "old woolen mill" on Pratt Street 
in 1920. Practically the whole interior of the building was 
removed during the renovations which followed. Office personnel 
were located on the first floor, with the mechanical departments 
on the second and third floors. Another building for manufac- 
turing purposes was erected to the west, adjoining the office- 
mechanical areas. 

When operations began,, approximately 300 men and women 
were on the payroll. Most of the supervisory personnel was 
transferred from Elmwood and Bristol, including the plant's first 
manager, the late Charles M. Gearing, who later became division 
works manager. Later top executives were Milton L. Gearing, 

175 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

son of the original plant manager, John J. Curry, William E. 
Murden, and Robert T. Collins. The present plant manager is 
Harry Burgess. 

At the outset many of the local plant's employees were trans- 
ported to and from Bristol, and participated in training operations 
here. 

Since the Meriden plant was opened, ball bearings of the 
smaller sizes have been added to production for such applications 
as generators, household appliances, electric motors, and instru- 
ments. 

The production performance of New Departure here during 
World War II was regarded as a marvel by all who had contact 
with it. Millions of bearings were turned out to help equip the 
armed forces. The plant operated on a three-shift basis around 
the clock seven days a week. In January 1944, the Meriden divi- 
sion recorded its all-time high in employment with 8,082 men and 
women on the payroll. It received a number of awards from the 
government for its achievements. 

During the war, the production of instrument ball bearings 
became especially important. The Meriden plant was selected to 
begin the manufacture of these ultra-precise products. A plant 
in Guilford, employing about 300 hands, was maintained at that 
period, but it was closed after the war and most of its employees 
came to Meriden. 

In 1942, New Departure enlarged its manufacturing facilities 
here by acquiring a plant, on the opposite side of Pratt Street, 
from the International Silver Company. A section of the buildings 
was razed later to provide additional parking space. 

In December 1954, a modern industrial waste treatment system 
was installed. It eliminates oils and chemicals from water used in 
processing operations before it flows into Harbor Brook. 

The local division has helped to promote and has contributed 
largely to many community programs. Hundreds of plant em- 
ployees over the years have engaged in many activities for civic 
benefit. 

Many improvements in manufacturing operations have been 
made in recent years, resulting in products of better quality and 
increased quantity. 

Harry T. Burgess, manager of the Meriden plant, has been with 

176 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

the bearing firm since 1928, rising through the positions of fore- 
man, superintendent, personnel manager, and general superinten- 
dent before being appointed to his present position. With him 
are associated C. Frederick Crow, factory manager; John DiFran- 
cesco, production manager; Oscar Liebreich, chief inspector; 
Joseph Robinson, personnel manager; George Smith, master 
mechanic, and Edward Noon, resident comptroller. 

The Miller Company 

The Miller Company, one of Meriden's oldest industrial plants, 
is currently in its 1 12th year as a manufacturer of lighting fixtures. 
The industry began in 1 844 in a small shop that produced candle- 
sticks and oil-burning lamps. Today it has factories and offices 
in Meriden and in Ohio. 

When kerosene was distilled from bituminous coal in 1858, 
Miller was the first concern in the country to design, produce, 
and market a kerosene-burning lamp. During the Victorian era, 
the company pioneered in the design and production of gas 
fixtures. Later came the lamps using the Wellsbach mantle, 
Edison's carbon filament incandescent lamp, mercury-vapor and, 
in 1938, fluorescent lighting. 

In addition to the illuminating division, the Miller Company 
has in Meriden a brass rolling mill which was started in 1868. It 
was originally intended to supply only the brass parts used here 
in making lamps, but has since grown to become a national 
supplier of phosphor bronze and brass. 

The officers of the company are Burton G. Tremaine, chairman 
of the board; Burton G. Tremaine, Jr., president; William H. 
Fitzpatrick, secretary-treasurer; Frederick R. Slagle, vice presi- 
dent and manager of the rolling mill division; Henry J. Milling- 
ton, vice president and manager of the illuminating division, and 
L. Melvin Grawemeyer, vice president in charge of sales for the 
illuminating division. 

The company's factories and offices in Meriden employ 282 
persons in the illuminating and rolling mill divisions. 

The rolling mill division is currently undergoing a five-year 
million-dollar expansion and modernization program which began 
in 1954. 

A custom shop was established in connection with the illumin- 
ating division two years ago. In it custom fixtures are hand made 

177 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

for special orders received from churches, schools, offices, and 
government buildings and installations. 

Electronic equipment to accelerate payroll and billing pro- 
cedures was recently installed. Communication between the 
Meriden and Ohio plants is almost instantaneous by means of an 
electronic device. Orders received in Meriden can be transmitted 
to Ohio in a matter of seconds. 

The fluorescent manufacturing facilities were transferred to 
Ohio from Meriden in 1947, but there is an increasing demand 
for the incandescent lighting equipment manufactured here, 
offering great promise for future productivity. 

The Charles Parker Company 

The Charles Parker Company is the oldest industry in Meriden, 
dating back to 1832. Its progress in the nineteenth century has 
been recorded previously in this volume. 

The most important change since 1900 occurred when the 
Parker Company in 1940 purchased the Bradley & Hubbard Mfg. 
Company, another old concern, founded in 1854. Through the 
purchase additional manufacturing capacity was obtained. A line 
of lighting fixtures and architectural metal work was added to 
production, which was concentrated in the plants on Hanover 
Street. 

In addition to a complete rearrangement of facilities, a rebuild- 
ing and modernization program was undertaken and machinery 
was installed to meet modern competition. The concern has 
approximately 300 employees. 

Products include foundry-selected non-ferrous castings requir- 
ing special alloys and treatment, as well as machine-finished 
castings; structural iron fire escapes, staircases, grille work and 
railings, both bridge and highway; sheet metal, precision instru- 
ments and aircraft specification work; bathroom cabinets, 
distributed through plumbing jobbers on a nationwide basis; 
bathroom fixtures of chrome and anodized aluminum, in color, 
for wood and tile applications; mirrors made with stainless steel 
or brass with chrome plating; vises for machinists and the home 
workshop; special lighting for churches, public buildings and 
banks. 

The officers of the company are Parker B. Allen, president; 
C. T. Jordan, J. J. Connors and McRae Curtis, vice presidents; 

178 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

O. C. Hugo, secretary; W. E. Ackroyd, treasurer. McRae Curtis 
is factory manager. 

The Cuno Engineering Corporation 

The Cuno Engineering Corporation was established in 1912 by 
Charles H. Cuno and his father, the late Charles F. Cuno. The 
original products of the company were electrical automotive 
specialties. 

The company acquired the Board of Trade building on South 
Vine Street in 1925, and made additions to it as its growth 
continued. With the development of the Cuno "Auto Klean" 
filter for aircraft engines and airplanes, the company began an 
outstanding contribution to the aircraft industry. The filters were 
rapidly adopted for the hydraulic systems of planes for retractable 
landing gear, brakes, wing flaps, turrets, etc. During World War 
II, the production of this type of equipment increased enormously, 
and the company's contribution to the war effort was most 
important. 

Since the war, the company has concentrated on the manufac- 
ture of industrial niters and automotive electrical equipment. It 
has 400 employees. 

In 1951 an addition to the plant was constructed at a cost of 
$470,000 to provide 42,600 square feet. Completely modern in 
design, the new building is considered a model example of manu- 
facturing facilities. In 1955, the Cuno output was valued at 
$5,400,000. 

Alfred Kroll is manufacturing manager. 

The officers of the corporation are Murray McConnel, presi- 
dent; Roy Scott, executive vice president; Carlton H. Winslow, 
vice president and secretary; Philip Ricciardi, treasurer; Alvin 

C. Bruel, Jr., assistant secretary; Lois Z. Fagan, assistant secretary; 

D. Warren Brooks, assistant treasurer. 

The Napier Company 

The origin of the Napier Company may be traced back to the 
firm of Whitney & Rice, founded in 1875 in North Attleboro, 
Mass., which made massive gilt watch chains for men. The 
company was purchased by E. A. Bliss and his business associate 
Mr. Carpenter, who retired not long afterward. The E. A. Bliss 
Company, with Mr. Bliss as its active head, was incorporated on 

179 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

July 27, 1882 in Massachusetts. The company made a varied line 
of jewelry and giftwares. In 1890, it moved to Meriden to occupy 
a plant at the north end which had previously been one of the 
first ornamental glassware producing factories in the country. 
The firm then became incorporated in Connecticut. 

In 1893 the manufacture of sterling silver giftwares was begun. 
The company claims to be the first concern in Meriden to manu- 
facture sterling silver merchandise. 

Mr. Bliss made his first trip to Europe in 1897 to study 
European fashions and to purchase materials. Since that time, 
executives and members of the designing staff have crossed the 
ocean frequently for the same reasons. Mr. Bliss died in 1911, and 
his son, William E. Bliss, became the active head of the company. 

In December 1914, James H. Napier became associated with the 
company as general manager and director. Under his leadership 
a program was instituted which resulted in new manufacturing 
methods with the addition of new machinery, and a line of 
products which rapidly gained entry into the world of fashion 
jewelry and giftwares. 

During World War I, the company was one of the first in 
Meriden to convert to the manufacture of war materials, making 
bayonet scabbards, gas masks, gas mask parts, trench mirrors and 
vane braces. 

Mr. Napier was elected president and general manager in 1920, 
and the company's name was changed to the Napier-Bliss 
Company. In 1922, the present name, the Napier Company, was 
adopted. 

In March 1928, the company purchased the land and buildings 
on Cambridge Street which it had been occupying since 1890. 
Many changes were made, both exterior and interior, and addi- 
tional land surrounding the building was purchased and land- 
scaped attractively in 1929. 

Early in World War II, the company again turned to the 
manufacture of war materials. A new method of making bronze 
and silver-clad bushings was developed, saving large quantities 
of critical materials. Navy flying-boat landing frames were 
produced from hard tempered aluminum, together with radar 
tuning devices, radar instrument panels and many other essentials 
for the war effort. 

The plant was completely renovated in 1945, and a large 

180 




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LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

addition to house the plating room was constructed. Much new 
machinery and equipment were purchased and installed. The 
company today occupies over 40,000 square feet of floor space 
and employs between 350 and 500 persons, depending upon 
seasonal conditions. Its ivy-covered walls give it the appearance 
of a building on some college campus. The property, including 
14 acres, is known as Napier Park. In 1955 the company received 
the American Nurserymen's "Plant America" award for its 
effective landscaping. 

The Napier Company is the largest privately owned producer 
of fashion jewelry in the United States. It sells its products 
directly to retail stores, and maintains branch offices in New York, 
Chicago, and Los Angeles. 

Napier jewelry was shown at the opening in Rome of the 
summer 1956 collection of gowns for the Fontana sisters. It was 
the first time that American-designed jewelry had been featured 
by a European couturier. In addition to jewelry, the company 
produces sterling silver, silverplated and gold-plated giftwares, 
including such varied gifts as bar accessories, smokers' accessories, 
and many other items. 

The Connecticut Telephone and Electric Corporation 

The Connecticut Telephone and Electric Corporation, now under 
new ownership and management, is an industry which has been 
established here for 62 years. It was formed in 1894 as a partner- 
ship between Ernest C. Wilcox and Burton L. Lawton for the 
purpose of manufacturing telephone instruments. 

Originally, the business was conducted at the old Malleable 
Iron plant. Part of the present site on Britannia Street was 
purchased in 1903, and in that year the present name of the 
company was adopted. Later, the firm entered the automobile 
ignition field and, in 1913, became the largest manufacturer of 
automobile ignition systems in the world. 

The company designed and manufactured portable antennae 
field sets for the War Department at a time when radio was still 
in its infancy. In 1920, it was cited by the War Department for 
service rendered during World War I. 

In World War II, its services were also extensive in the pre- 
cision manufacture of equipment used by the armed services, 
especially in the field of communications. Company and 

181 



LOCAL INDUSTRY SINCE 1900 

employees were honored by the government for their war 
contributions. 

The plant occupies a group of thoroughly modernized factory 
buildings on Britannia Street, which have grown from the original 
small factory. 

In February 1956 the company was reorganized under the 
control of local interests. Its present officers are C. A. Schultz, 
president; H. B. Randall, vice president; H. N. Westhaver, vice 
president; J. E. Whisler, vice president; W. M. Schultz, treasurer; 
R. A. Schultz, assistant treasurer; C. W. Schultz, secretary. 
Randall, Westhaver and Whisler have been associated with the 
company for many years as executives. 

The Schultz group owns the Silver City Glass Company, the 
Silver City Crystal Company and Radio Station WMMW in 
Meriden. 

Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division 

The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft 
Corporation is an acknowledged world leader in the design, 
development, and production of gas-turbine engines for aircraft. 
The Meriden branch is a leased facility occupying the former 
plant of Manning, Bowman & Co. at Pratt and Miller Streets. It 
was established here in 1951, and is used as an inspection center 
for parts, rough and finished, which go into P&WA engines. 

The branch is under the direction of A. Lawrence Riker, chief 
inspector, branch plants, and head of the Meriden facility. 

About 900 are employed here. The total of Meriden residents 
employed in all P&WA plants was 1,137 in March 1956. 

There are 29 subcontractors or suppliers in Meriden from whom 
the division buys parts or supplies. 

Manning, Bowman & Co., one of the old companies no longer 
in the local industrial picture, was established in 1859 by Thaddeus 
Manning in Cromwell. The plant was moved to Middletown at 
the close of the Civil War, and the business was brought to 
Meriden in 1872. Its field was the fabrication of quality metal 
products and the manufacture of electrical appliances. For many 
years the business prospered, and the plant was enlarged to cover 
two city blocks. Its later history was a story of decline under 
severe competitive conditions which finally forced the dissolution 
of the industry here. 

182 



CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE 



World War II 



By 1941, the spreading conflagration in Europe had made it 
apparent that it was only a question of time before the United 
States would be starting counterblazes against aggression. Meriden 
industries had been engaged in some phases of defense production 
for at least two years. Early in 1940, military units from this city 
had been summoned into training. On February 24, 1940, the 
National Guard companies were inducted into service, and 
entrained for Florida early in March. The 118th Medical Regi- 
ment Band accompanied the other guardsmen. 

The total registration for the first draft was 4,815 on October 
16, 1940, and on October 29 the first drawing was held. The 
second draft, for those who had become 21 during the interim, 
was on July 17, 1941. 

Organization of the city's defense effort proceeded rapidly 
after the appointment by Mayor Francis R. Danaher of a Defense 
Council, consisting of Captain John R. Feegel, chairman; Police 
Chief Michael B. Carroll, Fire Chief John F. Moroney, Harry S. 
Hanson, Boy Scout executive, Robert S. Kidder, John Holman, 
John N. Brusie, and Charles A. Newton, executive secretary of 
the Chamber of Commerce. Units for local defense were formed, 
and Spencer H. Miller became Chief Warden, with many com- 
mittees under him serving in the various phases of the work. The 
city was divided into four zones, and many block wardens were 
enlisted in each zone. The volunteers were indoctrinated, through 
courses given in the City Hall auditorium, in what to do in case 
of attack. 

But these foretastes of war conditions had hardly prepared the 
city for the shocking news which broke on December 7, 1941, 
when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. War on Japan was 
declared the following day. The formal declaration of war on 
Germany and Italy was recorded December 11. Rumania declared 
war on this country on December 12, and Bulgaria on December 
13. But the United States took no action on these two declarations 
until June 5, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked 

183 



WORLD WAR II 

for counterdeclarations, and Congress immediately complied. 

The State Guard was called out for guard duty at defense 
plants on December 12, 1941, but was recalled after two weeks. 

The whole country was aroused by the Pearl Harbor attack, 
and war sentiment was at fever heat. But the mood was even more 
grim than at the start of World War I, and there was much less 
of parading, but plenty of stern effort here. 

On February 16, 1942, all males between 20 and 44 years old, 
and not already registered, were required to register, and 2,711 
living here responded to the call. The list of numbers assigned 
was posted March 12, and the drawing was held in Washington 
on March 17. Number 441 was the first number drawn in District 
13 A. It was held by Stanley Zuckerman. The first number drawn 
in District 13B was held by the Rev. James J. O'Conner, who had 
been transferred, shortly before, to a church in Washington, D. C. 

The fourth registration, for men from 45 to 65 years old, was 
held in April 1942. The registration for those from 18 to 20 years 
old followed on June 30. 

Meriden had its first trial blackout on March 3, 1942. On March 
18, the shortage of gasoline resulted in the rationing regulations 
effective during the remainder of the war period. Rationing of 
tires followed. Registration days for sugar and gasoline rationing 
were held in May at the schoolhouses, and coupon books were 
issued. The gasoline coupons were in different classes, and the 
allowances granted were measured according to the type of use 
of the car. 

The war years that followed were well recorded in a unique 
journal sent out by the Meriden Center of the United Service 
Organizations to Meriden men and women in the service of their 
country. Written and compiled by Arthur L. Barber, general 
secretary of the Y.M.C.A., it was entitled News From Home. 
Its publication and distribution, under the same name and auspices, 
have continued since the war. In a format of only four typewritten 
pages, News From Home gives a condensed version of interesting 
and important news of Meriden from month to month. This first 
issue appeared in November 1943. It reported: "The fellow in 
his twenties who looks healthy feels as if he ought to be carrying 
a sign explaining that his liver and one kidney are missing — or 
something to that effect." 
Scores of volunteers helped in the preparation and mailing of 

184 



WORLD WAR II 

this newsy sheet. In 1944 the Bradley Home staff took over the 
complete job. 

The city rapidly became inured to war demands. Nearly every 
aspect of life had changed. The need for war workers in Meriden 
industry could not be supplied entirely by local residents, and 
thousands came here from other states. Most of them were 
snapped up immediately by eager employment managers. Housing 
to care for them became a paramount necessity. A survey was 
taken of boarding accommodations. The Gale Terrace temporary 
housing development was erected, and part of it was rilled up at 
once by 60 Jamaicans brought here to ease the labor shortage. 
Later the number rose to about 250. One man advertised offering 
a war bond to anyone who would find him an apartment for rent. 

Campaign followed campaign in rapid succession. Quotas were 
topped here in war loan drives, and Meriden more than once led 
all Connecticut cities in per capita sales of war bonds. 

The city took good care of servicemen from other cities as 
well as the local servicemen who came home on leave. They 
were welcomed at the railroad station, provided with free over- 
night accommodations at the Y.M.C.A., given passes to theaters, 
dances, and bowling alleys. 

There was no slacking in the almost universal war effort here. 
Hardly a day went by without the announcement of some new 
campaign. The agencies in the Community Fund were especially 
active, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to meet 
their expanding needs. The USO had been added to the group, 
and its appeal was oversubscribed, along with the appeals of other 
organizations, including the Red Cross, which functioned for the 
benefit of the war effort. 

The smooth integration of Meriden's response to the demands 
of war led to the most signal honor ever bestowed upon this city. 
After a careful examination of the claims of other cities, the 
Federal War Manpower Commission designated Meriden as "The 
Nation's Ideal War Community.") This story broke on the first 
pages of newspapers across the country, and drew national 
attention to the manner in which the local war assignment had 
been carried out. 

There was a story behind the story. The Metro-Goldwyn- 
Mayer motion picture company had collaborated with the War 
Manpower Commission to produce a morale-building motion 

185 



WORLD WAR II 

picture entitled "Main Street Today." It was the second picture 
of this type produced by the company. Seeking for the proper 
community in which to hold the world premiere, the producers 
consulted War Manpower Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, and 
the choice fell on Meriden because it best met the standards 
which had been set up. 

At that time, early in 1944, 80 manufacturing companies here 
were supplying the sinews of war on an enormous scale. Almost 
complete conversion to war production had been achieved. 
Wallingford and Southington in this area had more than 50 other 
plants engaged in war output. The local population had increased 
from about 40,000 at the beginning of the war to more than 
46,000. The roll of war workers could muster at least 20,000, 54 
per cent of whom were women. More than 5,000 Meriden men 
and women were serving in the various branches of the armed 
forces. At the same time, the home front was manned by nearly 
the entire resident population. Even those who had retired from 
employment years previously had found niches for usefulness. 

There were other factors, too, which weighed in the selection 
of Meriden for this honor. jQne of the most important was the 
prevailing harmony in interracial and industrial relationships. 
More than 60 per cent of the people here were either foreign 
born or born of foreign or mixed parentage. These racial stocks 
had mingled without friction. 

All Meriden plants except the International Silver Company, 
which had a special war set-up of its own, functioned through a 
labor-management committee. This committee operated to find 
transportation for war workers through car pools, to help in 
war bond drives, to work out traffic plans with the city, and to 
help solve numerous other problems. Interruptions of war pro- 
duction because of disputes over hours, wages, or working 
conditions were practically unknown. The committee promptly 
ironed out the troubles which arose. Most plants were working 
three shifts, and the average wage rates of Meriden and Walling- 
ford combined were among the highest in the nation. Absenteeism 
was also non-existent. 

This city was the perfect setting for what the War Manpower 
Commission had in mind, and Meriden responded to the news of 
its honor by preparing an elaborate program for the official 
celebration. A committee of community leaders was formed. All 

186 



WORLD WAR II 

local groups were represented. The churches played an especially 
important part, for Sunday, March 19, was designated as Civic 
Sunday, with non-sectarian worship in the City Hall at 7:30 p.m. 

On Monday, March 20, Meriden gave its official reception for 
the Hon. Paul McNutt and the party which he had brought with 
him from Washington. Arriving at 5 p.m., he and the group were 
escorted on a series of plant inspections. This was followed by a 
dinner in the new cafeteria of the New Departure Division of 
General Motors. The entire proceeds from the sale of tickets to 
this affair went to the Meriden Chapter of the American Red 
Cross. 

The New Departure plant was next inspected, and the party 
attended an exhibit of war products in the Y.M.C.A. Then, at 
10:30 p.m., came the presentation of a program at the Loew-Poli 
Palace Theater. Again the Red Cross benefited by the proceeds. 

Mr. McNutt spoke in the theater, and his message was broadcast 
to the country over the red network. Captain Glenn Miller's 
band furnished the music for the program. Hollywood stars 
Luise Rainer and Jimmie Durante made personal appearances. 

Governor Raymond E. Baldwin represented the State of Con- 
necticut on this occasion. 

The Meriden Record and the Meriden Journal published special 
editions in connection with the event, and reported the pro- 
ceedings in many columns of space, and the principal wire services 
carried liberal accounts to all parts of the country. 

The official citation, embossed on a plaque presented to Mayor 
Francis R. Danaher, acting on behalf of the city, read: 

"A Commendation to the City of Meriden for its outstanding 
achievements in the complete Mobilization of Manpower and 
every Home Front Resource to effectively speed the War Effort. 

Paul V. McNutt 
Chairman the Manpower Commission." 

While all this was happening at home, Meriden men and 
women away from home were scattered all over the globe. The 
lessons of war training had long since been translated into combat 
experience for many. The war was being fought on many fronts: 
in the European theater, on isolated islands of the Pacific, in the 
Philippines, in the Far North, over the cold reaches of the 
Atlantic, around the British Isles, in North Africa, at the "soft 
under-belly" of Europe, and was creeping up to the shores of 

187 



WORLD WAR II 

Japan. Meriden soldiers, sailors, marines were engaged in practi- 
cally all the phases of this unprecedented struggle, and were 
giving a good account of themselves. But the mounting casualty 
lists were bringing sorrow to many a Meriden home, and steeling 
the resolve of the city at large to pour all of its resources into 
the war effort. 

The news of the invasion of Western Europe on D-Day was 
received here with prayer, not jubilation. Invasion services were 
held in all the churches. Work ceased in the factories while men 
and women at the bench bowed their heads and prayed. 

Again the city went over the top in the Fifth War Loan drive 
in 1944, when $10,355,766 was subscribed in Meriden, $755,760 
above the quota. 

A second hurricane, somewhat less severe than the disastrous 
hurricane of 1938, hit here in September 1944, causing the loss of 
nearly 500 of the city's trees, putting more than 1,000 telephones 
out of business, causing a failure of electric power in many parts 
of the city. 

This happened while the hurricane overseas was at its height. 

Meriden servicemen were meeting in such far-off places as New 
Delhi, India, Italy, England, France, the Hawaiian Islands, New 
Guinea, on shipboard in the Pacific, in North Africa — and 
writing home of these and other war experiences. On the lighter 
side, a beard-raising contest promoted by the Y.M.C.A. produced 
some startling photographs of Meridenites who were barely 
recognizable behind their facial foliage. 

The city in 1944 was already planning for its postwar 
development, and especially to welcome and care for the needs 
of returning members of the armed forces. Mayor Danaher 
appointed a Veterans' Service Commission for advisory purposes 
consisting of Joseph Bogucki, William Dibble, Harold Holmes, 
C. I. Packer, Fred Slagle, William J. Wilcox and Arthur L. 
Barber. 

News From Home was being sent at this time to a considerable 
number of German and Japanese prisoners-of-war. 

Early in 1945, the city exceeded its $8 million quota in the 
Sixth War Loan by $400,000. Calls for blood found ready 
response, and many on the home front gave until they were nearly 
"bled white." 

The Meriden U.S.O. report in February showed that nearly 

188 



WORLD WAR II 

5,000 free showers had been provided by the Y.M.C.A. for 
servicemen, 1,500 of whom had been provided with lodgings, and 
that 37,000 news letters had been sent out during 1944. 

A municipal youth canteen, the "Tally-Ho" was opened in the 
basement of the Welfare Building on Liberty Street. 

In April 1945, the official records showed that 5,242 had left 
Meriden for war service. 

Meanwhile, plans for postwar Meriden were progressing step- 
by-step. An architect was engaged to plan a $1,500,000 high 
school — a plan later abandoned when the Board of Education 
decided to proceed first with the building of elementary schools 
before attempting the secondary schools phase of school con- 
struction. The old Rogers Block, long an eyesore in the center 
of the city, was removed. South Colony Street was widened at 
this point, and the loop system of traffic regulation was placed 
in effect. An option was obtained by the city to purchase a 
portion of the Lyon & Billard property for the purpose of 
widening Hanover Street, but the proposal was held in abeyance, 
and eventually the check given by the city was voided with the 
consent of the principals. 

In the spring of 1945, victory was in sight, at least on the 
continent of Europe. The German armies began surrendering 
on May 4, and unconditional surrender was signed May 7 at 
Rheims headquarters and in Berlin. This news found Meriden still 
in a sober mood. Not a factory decreased operations. In fact, 
attendance on the job averaged even higher than usual. There 
were prayer services in every church on the evening of V-E Day, 
and a U.S.O. community prayer and song service in Crown 
Street Square. 

At this time, Meriden was leading the state in the Seventh 
War Loan campaign. It had raised $600,000 to increase the size 
of the Meriden Hospital with a new addition. 

News that brought rejoicing was the release of a large number 
of Meriden men from German prison camps. 

It was a tense summer here, as well as in all other parts of the 
country. The invasion of Okinawa on April 1 had been followed 
by 83 days of fighting. The first atomic bomb ever used in war 
was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, and complete victory 
over Japan was achieved with the surrender on August 14. The 
formal surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri took place 

189 



WORLD WAR II 

September 2, Far Eastern time — V-J Day. 

A reminder of the sacrifices which war had meant was afforded 
by the dedication on July 17 of a memorial in Hubbard Park to 
Major Donald T. Robison, formerly park superintendent, who 
had given his life in the combat in the Pacific. On July 4, he was 
posthumously awarded the nation's third highest honor, the 
Legion of Merit. The memorial consisted of an inscribed boulder. 

In common with most of the country, Meriden had two peace 
celebrations, the first premature on August 12, touched off by a 
wire-service dispatch which beat the formal announcement. Bells 
started ringing wildly, and a scene of wild jubilation began in the 
streets, lasting for about an hour before the dispatch was cor- 
rected. Two days later, following the official announcement, 
10,000 persons jammed the downtown section. The occasion was 
unmarred by vandalism, but the crowds cut loose with songs and 
cheers. On August 15, a peace parade was held, and many took 
part in a block dance in Crown Street Square, to music from the 
Record's amplifier with borrowed records. The band engaged 
had failed to appear. 

Ernest Kirby was engaged by the city in January 1944 to 
compile Meriden's war records, and his report was made first in 
July 1945. The following figures were taken from his statistics 
at that time: 5,631 inducted (of whom 4,879 were still in uniform 
in September 1945); 146 dead; 377 wounded; 28 prisoners (of 
whom 20 had returned by early August); 3,104 in the Army; 
1,060 in the Navy; 171 Marines and 161 in other branches; 156 
women in the armed services, of whom 56 were WACs, 39 
Waves, 10 Spars, 39 Army nurses, 7 Navy nurses, with 5 dis- 
charged at the time when the first report was made. On 
December 1, 615 from here were still in the service. 

Organized to advise the returning veterans was the Veterans' 
Advisory Center at 22 Liberty Street in the old high school 
building, then called the Welfare Building. 

The Volunteer Office of the War Council was located in the 
same building. It was closed in October 1945, but Mrs. Matilda 
A. Young, who had been in charge of the office, was appointed 
secretary of the War History Office and continued the work of 
the Volunteer Office on a part-time basis. 

Meriden residents who lost their lives in the service of their 
country in World War II were: 

190 



WORLD WAR II 



Albert R. Athorne 
Leonard Baranski 
Emil E. Beierle 
Joseph E. Bergeron 
William F. Berwick 
Edward Bieluczyk 
Arthur J. Biesak 
Welles Bishop 
Vincent J. Blachuta 
Menceslaus Bogacz 
James H. Brandenberger 
Fred Emil Brechlin 
Frank Budzinack 
Joseph J. Byczynski 
Joseph Cahill 
Albert Caivano 
Vincent S. Cannatelli 
William J. Carrozella 
John T. Cashen 
Paul Carl Chaya 
Carl J. Ciasulli 
Louis M. Cook 
William J. Cooper 
Louis J. Corradino 
Arthur H. Crooker 
Jerome F. Curran 
A. Morse Curtis, Jr. 
Charles E. Cushing 
Henry A. Dahlke 
Ronaldo F. D'auria 
Mark Daybill 
John H. Dearborn 
Anthony Dlugolenski 
Walter J. Douksza 
Frank R. Dowling 
George E. Dupuis 
Manfred R. Falk 
Herman B. Faricelli 
Thomas M. Fitzgibbons, Jr. 
Robert W. Fowler 



Francis E. Gaffey 
Carl A. Gardon 
Raymond W. Gearing 
Hugh R. Gibney, Jr. 
Lawrence Gleason 
Howard T. Gracey 
Robert Gregory 
Michael J. Grieco, Jr. 
Robert W. Grinold 
Robert Halstein 
Dana Harlow, Jr. 
Wayne G. Havell 
Donald A. Hofmeister 
August W. Horton 
Warren Hough 
Harold Jobin 
George J. Kafka 
Walter W. Kaminsky 
William Kapitzke 
Norman P. Kelly 
Robert S. Kidder 
David M. Knell 
Edward J. Koczon 
John Kolek 
Frank P. Konopka 
Walter Koozmitch 
Robert Kroeber, Jr. 
Henry C. Landry 
John R. LaRosa 
Howard Lebo 
Walter Lepack 
Benjamin L. Liber 
Alexander Logoyke 
Ernest Luc a 
Lionel J. Ludsier 
Robert E. Lynes 
George S. Macri 
Joseph Paul Madona 
Joseph Majewicz 
Anthony Maletta 



191 



WORLD WAR II 



John J. Malm 
Nestor J. Malone 
William F. Malone 
Francis R. Maney 
John F. Mason 
Paul E. McCarthy 
Wesley J. Meiklem 
Dorrance Merriam 
Paul Mingrino 
Michael Molon 
Joseph Morelli 
Donald W. Moyer 
Benjamin Muzyczka 
Julius A. Nessing 
Stanley J. Niewiadomski 
Arthur Nitsche 
Russell P. O'Brien 
Maurice O'Connell 
Stanley Orzech 
Dominic Paluconis 
Arthur Panciera 
Everett Parrish 
Herbert T. Perkins 
Theodore J. Pinkos 
John Podgurski 
Irving C. Pohl 
Bronislaus Przywara 
Joseph S. Pulaski 
Arthur J. Radtke 
Charles Rahner 
Robert Reilly 
Edwin W. Ridley 
Robert I. Robinson 



Donald T. Robison 
Joseph E. Rogers 
James Rosi 
Kenneth C. Runge 
Theodore J. Rzegocki 
Edward O. St. Onge 
Joseph F. St. Onge 
Joseph C. Saleski 
Bertrand K. Sawyer 
John V. Scarfo 
Francis J. Schaefer 
Carl A. Scharmer, Jr. 
Kenneth E. Smith 
James V. Spinelli 
Theodore T. Stafinski 
Joseph A. Sullivan, Jr. 
Edward J. Szymaszek 
Donald J. Teagle 
Albert J. Tetreault 
Joseph J. Trigilio 
Harold C. Trostel 
William R. Whalon 
Jack Williams 
Edgar Worley 
Bronislaus Woronik 
Herbert A. Wunsch 
Carlton W. Wusterbarth 
Richard H. Young 
Raymond Zavaglia 
Frank A. Zawacki 
Rudolph J. Zebora 
Victor Leo Zlotowski 
Edward J. Zuraw 



192 



CHAPTER THIRTY 



The Korean War 

The Korean War which followed World War II, has been 
described as a "police action" but its effects were those of all-out 
war, so far as this country was concerned. American soldiers 
fought and bled and died in large numbers, and at least 15 men 
from Meriden were among those who perished as a result of their 
service. 

It is unnecessary to rehearse here the steps which led up to the 
conflict in which U. S. armed forces were involved, which began 
when the North Korean army invaded South Korea on June 
25, 1950. The Security Council of the United Nations demanded 
immediate withdrawal. When this was refused, the U. S. ordered 
Gen. Douglas MacArthur to send aid, and he was named com- 
mander in chief of the U. N. forces. Bitter fighting ensued, 
especially after 200,000 Red Chinese troops entered the war. The 
long combat was finally ended when an armistice was signed by 
the United Nations and the Communist delegates in Panmunjom 
on July 27, 1953. 

In this war, which resulted in a stalemate, the following Meriden 
men died, according to records kept by the Record-Journal: 

Francis H. Abele, killed in action in 1950; Robert P. Abele, 
killed in action in 1950; Malcolm E. Aldrich, listed killed in action 
in 1951; William H. Burke, lost at sea in 1950; Donald Dibble, 
reported missing in action in 1950, no subsequent report; Derrick 
Donovan, killed in action in 1951; Lorenzo Dupont, Jr., died of 
injuries in 1952 when hit by a car in Germany; Robert J. Gervais, 
killed in action in 1952; Burton A. Gracey, killed in action in 
1951; Joseph C. M. Gravel, killed in action in 1951; Warren H. 
Leining, killed in action in 1950; Frank J. O'Brien, Jr., killed in a 
parachute jump in 1954; Joseph F. Owsianik, body found in San 
Francisco Bay in 1952; Robert M. Strauss, killed in plane crash 
in 1954; Joseph Zuber, killed in accident in 1951 at air force base 
in Texas. 



193 



CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 



Labor Unions 



As early as 1880, individual trades here were organized into 
labor unions, but were not affiliated with any central body. 

The Knights of Labor movement began to sweep the country 
in 1883, motivated largely by a desire for political influence. 
Almost anyone could be admitted to this organization except 
liquor dealers and lawyers. The reasons for their exclusion were 
not stated publicly. 

Mechanics Assembly No. 2501 was instituted here in 1884 in 
Circle Hall on Colony Street as a unit of the Knights of Labor. 
Other units were soon formed in different trades, and the move- 
ment flourished for four years, but disintegrated in 1889, when 
the influence of the American Federation of Labor became 
dominant. The strong Buffers and Polishers Assembly here with- 
drew from the Knights of Labor to join the AFL, which led 
the way for many other local unions to follow. 

The Central Labor Union was organized September 21, 1890, 
in Martin's Hall, State Street and soon gained strong support. 
John Reynolds was the first president. In 1906, 23 local labor 
organizations, representing every union in the city, were affiliated 
with this body and took part in the Centennial celebration. 

The organization remained active and gained strength. It was 
instrumental in founding Undercliff Sanitarium, where beds were 
established for the care of union members or members of their 
families afflicted with tuberculosis. 

In July 1915, the C. L. U. observed its 25th anniversary with 
a celebration at Hanover Park at which Samuel Gompers, presi- 
dent of the American Federation of Labor, spoke. Mr. Gompers 
was taken on a sight-seeing trip through Meriden by Thomas L. 
Reilly, then U. S. Representative; and Julius C. Stremlau, then 
president of the Connecticut Federation of Labor, introduced Mr. 
Gompers to the assembled unions. Meriden at that time had 2,500 
members in unions affiliated with the Central Labor Union. 

In 1944, the body moved its headquarters from 29 Colony 
Street, where it had been located for 44 years, to 72% East Main 

194 



LABOR UNIONS 

Street. During World War II, it set up a committee to give aid 
and advice to returning veterans. This was done in response to a 
request from the War Department, according to the late Frederick 
L. Neebe, long secretary of C. L. U. Serving on the committee 
were Henry J. Burke, president, John L. Moran, Joseph Bogucki, 
Ernest T. Bradley and John T. McGlew. 

The office of the Central Labor Union is still at 72^2 East 
Main Street and John T. McGlew is president. More than 20 
AFL unions are affiliated. 

Although the merging of the American Federation of Labor 
and Council of Industrial Organizations has been completed on 
a national level, they have not yet been combined on the state 
and local level, but this must be accomplished under the agree- 
ment within two years. 

Only two local factories have CIO unions: the New Departure 
Division of General Motors Corporation and the Connecticut 
Telephone and Electric Corporation: the first, UAW, local 987, 
and the second the Electrical Workers Union. 

It is planned to merge on a local level within a year, officials 
have stated. 



195 



CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO 



Public Utilities 



Electricity and Gas 

It was 70 years ago this year that electricity was first made 
available to Meriden people for lighting their homes, and 93 years 
ago that gas was piped into homes for illumination and heat. 

The subsequent years have seen mighty developments in 
techniques and scope of service, thanks in large part to the 
integration of the Meriden utilities into the Connecticut Light & 
Power Co. network 30 years ago. 

Whereas gas and electricity were both once produced locally 
at plants on South Colony Street, consumers of the Meriden area 
today burn gas which is a mixture of natural gas — coming to 
them directly by pipeline from Texas and other southwestern 
producing centers — plus locally manufactured gas. Similarly, 
Meriden consumers today use electricity manufactured by steam 
or water power at great power plants in the state, and soon will 
be using electricity generated of atomic fission in facilities to 
whose construction the Connecticut Light & Power Co. is contrib- 
uting. 

It was in 1863, during the Civil War, that gas was first 
introduced into Meriden. A small 30,000-cubic-foot gas holder 
stood on South Colony Street about opposite Gold Street. By 
1875, the use of gas in Meriden had grown so substantially that a 
larger installation was necessary, and a new plant was constructed 
on Cooper Street on the site of the present CL&P facilities. 

A large brick gas holder with a conical roof was built in 1875. 
This was capable of storing 100,000 cubic feet of gas, which 
seemed like an enormous amount at the time. By 1890, however, 
the holder was far too small and its walls were extended another 
20 feet, thereby doubling its capacity. The old holder continued 
to serve for another decade or so, until 1901 when a much larger 
steel gas holder was erected. The brick gas holder remained on 
the premises until it was torn down in 1935. 

Gas was made locally by burning soft coal. A by-product was 

196 



PUBLIC UTILITIES 

coke. During World War I and the years thereafter the local 
gas works were the mecca of Meriden boys sent by their families 
to draw home a bagful of coke on their hand express wagons. 
Coal was short in those days, and boys from many parts of the 
city made regular trips after school to the gas works, standing in 
line until the burlap bag which they brought was filled with coke 
which helped to keep the home fire burning. 

The large telescopic steel tank which stood on the property 
on Cooper Street finally became inadequate, even though it held 
some 750,00 cubic feet of gas. In 1949 this tank gave way to the 
large steel globes called hortonspheres in which the Connecticut 
Light & Power Co. now stores a million cubic feet of gas each, 
under 60 pounds pressure. 

The erection of the hortonspheres, largest in the world at the 
time of their erection, was just another step in the development 
of a gas service which provided not only Meriden, but also 
Middletown, Cromwell, Southington, and Cheshire with gas. 
Since September 1953 natural gas has been brought to Meriden by 
pipeline from the oil fields to be mixed with manufactured gas. 

When gas was first introduced, it was largely for purposes 
of illumination in homes, stores, and on streets. As an illuminant, 
it displaced kerosene lamps which, in turn, had displaced candles. 
Even in the 1890's, after electricity had been introduced, some 
homes were piped for gas at the same time that they were wired 
for electricity. Today, of course, gas finds little use as an illumi- 
nant, but a great use industrially and an increasing use in home 
heating. 

Meriden has had electric lights since 1886. Two men, Fuller 
and Wood, pioneered in electric lighting, starting with the old 
carbon arc light which persisted for many years as a street light. 
In 1885 Fuller and Wood set up a steam engine in the Lonigan 
building on State Street, until recently the headquarters of Miner, 
Read & Tullock. The steam engine powered an arc light machine. 
They had a few lights attached so that local citizens could see 
how they worked. Then the citizens were besought to form a 
local electric light company. 

That is what happened in Meriden. E. A. Fitzgerald was Fuller 
& Wood's representative in Meriden. He set up three street lights 
as a demonstration, one at West Main and Butler, another at 
West Main and Colony Streets, and a third in Crown St. Square, 

197 



PUBLIC UTILITIES 

and he persuaded six local men to buy the plant. These men were 
Charles F. Linsley, Charles L. Rockwell, Abiram Chamberlain, 
E. B. Cowles, H. S. Geary, and John L. Billard. The men built 
a small building next to the warehouse, and set up two arc light 
machines, one for lighting stores, the other for the 30 street lights 
which they installed. That was in 1886. In 1887 they exchanged 
their stock for stock of the Aleriden Gas Light Co., and two years 
later moved their plant to South Colony Street where electricity 
continued to be generated for the next 26 years. 

Great changes took place in the field of electric illumination. 
Alternating current displaced direct current, and Thomas Edison 
invented the incandescent lamp which displaced the old arc lights. 
Edison showed his invention at the Columbia Exposition in 1893; 
five years later incandescent lighting was in use in Aleriden. 

It was in 1926 that the Connecticut Light & Power Co. entered 
the picture in Aleriden by merger of the Aleriden Gas Light Co., 
the Aleriden Electric Light Co., the New Milford Electric Light 
Co., the Woodbury Electric Light Co., and the Westport 
Electric Light Co. J. Henry Roraback was president of the 
CL&P at that time. 

Aleriden's gas and electric companies have had an exceptional 
record of continuous management. Joseph A. Hadley was mana- 
ger from 1865 to 1895. Charles A. Learned became manager in 
1895 and continued until after the merger of the local companies 
with the CL&P Co. He was succeeded by Albert S. Jourdan of 
30 Chestnut Street. 

After Air. Jourdan's retirement, James H. Doak, the present 
manager, was appointed. 

Telephone Communications 

Communication by telephone in Meriden has been possible for 
more than 78 years. A commercial telephone exchange was opened 
in Aleriden on January 31, 1878, just three days after the world's 
first commercial telephone exchange was opened in New Haven, 
making Aleriden the second city in the country to have commer- 
cial telephone service. 

There were only six subscribers when the Meriden exchange 
first opened in 1878 under the management of Ellis B. Baker. 
Today there are more than 20,000 telephones in Aleriden, 
according to Einer C. Setterling, Meriden manager of the 

198 



PUBLIC UTILITIES 

Southern New England Telephone Co. 

The story of the growth of the telephone in Meriden is one 
of steady progress. As the city grew, the telephone service grew, 
and new technical developments promptly found their way into 
the service in Meriden. 

The switchboard used in Meriden, which is the oldest com- 
mercial switchboard still in existence ( the days-older New Haven 
switchboard having been destroyed) was built in the Edward 
Miller Co. in Meriden by Roger D. Blish. Today the old Meriden 
switchboard is on display in the Bell System museum in New 
York City. 

Among the earliest subscribers who still use telephone service 
are the Miller Co., in whose shop the switchboard was built, the 
H. Wales Lines Co., and the Charles Parker Co. In their earliest 
days, telephones were largely an accommodation for commerical 
and industrial establishments; few homes had them at the be- 
ginning. 

Mr. Baker and Mr. Blish, who put together the first switchboard 
in Meriden, used carriage bolts and the knobs from teapots for 
some of the fixtures which were mounted on a walnut panel 
about two by three feet in size. The office of I. L. Holt, insurance 
agent, in the Wilcox block, accommodated Meriden's first 
switchboard. 

Shortly after the exchange was opened, it was moved to 10 
Railroad Avenue in the rear of the coal office of Mr. Baker. In 
1880, the exchange was located on the top floor of the Morse & 
Cook block. The name of the company was changed to the 
Connecticut Telephone Co. then and Elisha Ryder became the 
local manager. He subsequently moved his office to the loft over 
the Western Union Telegraph Co. office in the old railroad 
passenger station which stood in Winthrop Square, now the site 
of the Colony building, opposite the Winthrop Hotel. 

Two years later, in 1882, the company was organized under 
its present name of the Southern New England Telephone Co. 
The office was moved to the second floor of the railroad station 
which preceded the present brick station. There the exchange 
remained until 1898 when it was shifted to the Lyon & Billard Co. 
building, and in 1904 to the building on South Grove Street now 
occupied by the State Employment Service. 

All the changes of location were made in response to the need 

199 



PUBLIC UTILITIES 

of expanding service, and in April, 1925, the company moved to 
a fine new building on Butler Street. This building, much 
enlarged, is still the site of the company's local business office and 
operating quarters in Meriden. One of the principal expansions 
of the building came in 1950 when the business office was 
expanded. During the reconstruction, the business office occupied 
temporary quarters for some months at 67 East Main St., moving 
into its renovated quarters in December, 1950. The present two- 
story building will be raised to the height of four stories in 1957, 
according to plans recently announced. The enlargement will be 
made in anticipation of direct customer dialing on long distance 
calls, expected to be placed in effect here in 1958. 

Technical progress in telephonic communications has been 
steadily reflected in the service of the Meriden exchange. As 
early as 1889 the first metallic circuits in the exchange were used, 
and the first long distance circuit of copper from New York to 
Boston was connected through the Meriden office in the same 
year. 

At the turn of the century, and for a few years thereafter, 
telephone wires were strung overhead on poles bearing many 
crossarms. These were removed, and subsequently gave way to 
the underground conduits. Improved equipment, larger switch- 
boards, greater speed in handling long distance calls, characterized 
the growth of the local exchange. In 1949 there occurred a major 
development in the cutover from manual operation to dial 
telephones. Up until that time all calls required the assistance of 
an operator. Now, under the dial system, only long distance calls 
require operator assistance, and soon even that will be reduced to 
a minimum. 

When the Meriden exchange moved to its new quarters on 
Butler Street, the late Carl T. Kent was manager. He had come 
to Meriden in 1921, succeeding William Moran. Mr. Kent con- 
tinued to serve here until 1947, when he was promoted to become 
assistant to the district commercial manager. 

Succeeding Mr. Kent as manager was T. Valmonte Hedgpeth, 
who had been assistant manager. Mr. Hedgpeth continued as 
manager in Meriden until 1955 when he became supervisor of 
working practices at the New Haven headquarters. The present 
manager of the Meriden office, Mr. Setterling, came to Meriden 
in April, 1955. 

200 



CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE 



Meriden Newspapers 

Meriden, Wallingford, Cheshire, and Southington form one 
contiguous area in the very heart of Connecticut. The four 
communities have kindred interests which bind them closely 
together. 

Two modern daily newspapers serve this area — The Meriden 
Record and The Meriden Journal, both owned by The Meriden 
Record Company and published in the Record-Journal plant at 
Crown and Perkins Streets. More than 26,000 copies of the two 
newspapers, according to audited circulation figures, are distrib- 
uted daily. 

The newspapers had separate histories prior to June, 1949, 
when the Record purchased the Journal, and moved its entire 
staff across the street to become integrated with the dual enter- 
prise of morning and afternoon publication under single 
ownership. Since that time, there has been constant improvement 
in the plant and in the quality of the newspapers. Structural and 
mechanical changes have been numerous and, at the same time, 
the volume of news and features published has been greatly 
increased, with corresponding increases in readership and 
advertising. 

The Meriden Record 

The Meriden Record traces its beginnings to 1860, when its 
predecessor, the Meriden Republican, began as a weekly news- 
paper. Later, the Republican became an afternoon daily. 

On November 28, 1888, a number of pioneers in local industry 
and banking took over the directorship of the newspaper 
corporation, the Republican Publishing Company. The group 
included Charles Parker, the city's first mayor, Nathaniel L. 
Bradley, C. F. Linsley, John L. Billard, William F. Rockwell, 
S. A. Hull, Horace C. Wilcox, W. F. Graham, and O. B. Arnold. 

Four years later, William A. Kelsey, manufacturer of home 
printing presses, offered to assume the liabilities of the corporation 
in exchange for 60 per cent stock control, and the board was glad 

201 



MERIDEN NEWSPAPERS 

to accept the offer. Its members had learned from experience 
that newspaper management was not their province. 

Mr. Kelsey initiated new and successful policies. He appointed 
Thomas H. Warnock editor and Edwin E. Smith business 
manager, and gave them authority to conduct the newspaper 
according to their own ideas. At the time, he had already left 
Meriden to reside in Washington, D. C, which remained his 
home for the rest of his life. 

The Record was started in 1 892 as a one cent morning associate. 
In 1899, the two papers merged and became the Meriden Morning 
Record. The Republican was continued until March 1, 1899 as a 
weekly, and was then suspended. 

The close association of Mr. Warnock and Mr. Smith endured 
for more than 40 years and was ended only by the death of one 
of the pair. Edwin E. Smith was made secretary of The 
Republican Publishing Company when it was incorporated in 
1887, with William F. Graham as president. Mr. Graham resigned 
as president and treasurer the next year. He was editor and 
business manager of the Republican until his death May 18, 1891, 
when Mr. Warnock became editor. Tom Warnock, the first 
editor of The Record, had gained his newspaper experience under 
Mr. Graham, by whom he had first been employed in 1886. Mr. 
Smith and Mr. Warnock worked together in building the news- 
paper to a position of prestige and leadership until Mr. Smith's 
death in 1934. 

William A. Kelsey became president of the corporation in 
1905, and Mr. Smith was elected vice president and treasurer. 
Shortly afterwards, he was named publisher. After his death, his 
son, Wayne C. Smith, became general manager, and later pub- 
lisher. Mr. Kelsey served as president from 1905 to 1931, when he 
was succeeded by Mr. Warnock as president. In 1948, Wayne C. 
Smith was elected president and Mr. Warnock became chairman 
of the board. The company changed its name to The Meriden 
Record Company to conform to the name of the newspaper. 

Mrs. Blanche Hixson Smith, wife of Publisher Wayne C. Smith, 
joined the editorial staff of the Record in 1940, writing book and 
theatrical reviews and editorials. After the purchase of the 
Journal, she became executive editor of both newspapers. Carter 
H. White, her son, an attorney, vice president and general 
counsel of the corporation and active in the direction of its 

202 



MERIDEN NEWSPAPERS 

affairs since 1948, is now the assistant publisher and general 
manager of the Record and the Journal. After the death of Mr. 
Warnock in 1952, Warren F. Gardner, who had been managing 
editor under him, was raised to the position of editor. 

Assisting in the editorship of the Record for more than 40 
years was Julia Lansing Hull Warnock, who served as associate 
editor, book and music critic, and editorial writer. She retired 
from active newspaper work in 1943, shortly after her marriage 
to Mr. Warnock. Her death preceded his by only a few months. 

The first home of the Record was on Veteran Street in the 
building which has been occupied for many years by the Meriden 
Boys' Club. However, the Meriden Republican began operations 
on East Main Street at the corner of Veteran Street. The present 
main building, designed as a newspaper plant, was erected in 
1905, but has been greatly altered and enlarged, with an addition 
housing the garage, heating plant, and paper storage, while 
complete modernization, both mechanical and in office quarters, 
and the addition of executive offices, has taken place. A new 
40-page Hoe press was installed in 1948 in the enlarged press- 
room. The latest mechanical processes are used in the production 
of both newspapers, including the automatic setting of type by 
means of teletypesetter tape punched on special machines. The 
Record also receives the Associated Press wire service on tape. 

The Meriden Journal 

The Meriden Journal was first published April 17, 1886 in the 
Russell building on South Colony Street next to the Armour 
plant. It was founded by Francis Atwater, Lew Allen, Thomas 
L. Reilly and Frank E. Sands, four young men with slender 
capital which was almost absorbed by the first month's rent. Mr. 
Atwater, a practical printer, was in charge of the mechanical 
processes; Mr. Sands handled business details and solicited adver- 
tising; Mr. Allen was editor, and Mr. Reilly acted as city editor 
and reporter as well. The growth of circulation was so rapid 
that a new press became necessary in the fall of 1886. 

The quarters in the Russell building were too small, and the 
firm leased a three-story wooden building on the edge of Harbor 
Brook from Morse & Cook. This building was occupied in 1888. 
A year later, the company purchased the building and proceeded 

203 



MERIDEN NEWSPAPERS 

to erect a fireproof printing plant around the old wooden 
structure, continuing daily publication while the work was in 
process. An office was established on East Main Street where the 
Puritan Bank & Trust Company is now located, and was con- 
nected to the mechanical plant. In 1912, an office building was 
erected on property purchased from the H. Wales Lines 
Company, and the two buildings were joined. 

Mr. Atwater sold his interest in the company and retired in 
1913, and Mr. Sands became president and publisher. Before that 
time, both Mr. Allen and Mr. Reilly had retired, the latter to 
become congressman and later sheriff of New Haven County. 
C. Howard Tryon purchased an interest in 1915, was elected 
treasurer and named business manager. Sanford H. Wendover, 
who joined the company in 1916 as telegraph editor, became 
secretary and advertising manager. Later, Mr. Tryon was elected 
president, and also served as publisher. In 1943, Mr. Sands was 
elected chairman of the board and Mr. Wendover vice president 
to succeed Walter Allen, son of Lew Allen, who had been vice 
president as well as managing editor for many years. Mr. Allen 
then retired. 

The Journal was published continuously in the two buildings 
until it was purchased by The Meriden Record Company in 1949. 
But it did not lose its identity through the sale. Its editorial and 
news staffs are entirely separate from the Record staffs, working 
at different hours, and its editorial page represents the views of 
its own editors. 

Mr. Sands, who had spent his entire business lifetime in the 
conduct of the Journal, died in 1951. His death took the last 
of the newspaper's founders. Mr. Tryon remained as assistant 
publisher until 1950, when he retired. Mr. Wendover, who had 
been editor of the Journal since 1946, has continued in that 
capacity since the change. He is now the only former executive 
of the Journal Publishing Company still active in newspaper work. 

The Meriden Record Company sold the two buildings it had 
bought from the Journal to the Meriden Savings Bank. The bank 
remodeled the former office building as an enlargement of its 
banking quarters at East Main and Crown Streets, and the two 
buildings were connected. The former mechanical plant of the 
Journal was torn down early this year. 

204 



meriden newspapers 

Other Meriden Newspapers 

The Northern Literary Messenger, published by O. G. Wilson, 
was the first newspaper printed in Meriden. The date of the first 
issue is in doubt, but a copy of a later issue, February 3, 1849, 
bore the imprint Volume IV, indicating that it began late in 1844. 
It claimed to be edited "by an Association of Gentlemen." Publi- 
cation was suspended in 1849. 

The second newspaper was the Meriden Weekly Mercury, 
published by O. G. Wilson and George W. Weeks as a successor 
to the Messenger. The Mercury's plant was destroyed by fire 
about six weeks after it was started in 1849. The length of its 
life after that time is unknown. 

The Connecticut Organ was first published in 1851 by Franklin 
E. Hinman and O. H. Piatt. Hinman was the printer and Mr. 
Piatt, later to become famous in politics, was the editor. The 
paper was sold in 1852 to James N. Phelps & Co. The date when 
it ceased publication is uncertain. 

The Connecticut Whig was next on the newspaper scene. 
R. W. Lewis and O. H. Piatt were its publishers, and Mr. Piatt 
was also editor. The paper was discontinued about 1854. 

During the same period, the Meriden Transcript was published 
by Lysander R. Webb & Co. When the Whig was suspended, 
Mr. Piatt became editor of the Transcript, which lasted until 
August 1856. At that time, Mr. Piatt's increasing practice as a 
lawyer and his budding interest in politics influenced his with- 
drawal from the newspaper business. 

Robert Winston, a Canadian, came to Aaeriden in 1856 and 
established a weekly called the Meriden Chronicle which lasted 
for three years. It was purchased by A. B. Stillman who established 
the Meriden Banner, which had the brief life of four weeks. 

From then until 1863 Meriden was without a newspaper. On 
August 29 of that year Luther G. Riggs started the Meriden 
Literary Recorder. 

All of the newspapers mentioned were weeklies. The first daily 
was the Meriden Visitor, which began as the Weekly Visitor on 
March 21, 1867, but changed to a daily on January 1, 1868. Only 
three months later it was merged with the Weekly and Daily 
Republican, published at first by Marcus L. Delavan and George 
Gibbons, and later by William F. Graham. 

205 



MERIDEN NEWSPAPERS 

Luther G. Riggs was interested in several short-lived news- 
papers in addition to the Recorder. Among his other ventures 
were the Daily News, the Evening Recorder, and the Morning 
Call. 

The Penny Press, established by J. H. Mabbett in December 
1881, became the Evening Press the next year, and, on October 
16, 1882, consolidated with Riggs' Daily and Weekly Recorder. 
Under the name of the Press-Recorder, it continued until 1884. 
For a brief period in 1872, William F. Graham published a news- 
paper called the Evening Monitor, which was soon merged with 
the Republican. 

The Meriden Evening Times was started May 22, 1905, backed 
by Henry C. L. Otto, who had no previous experience in the 
newspaper business. Local investors lost about $30,000 in this 
venture, which lasted less than 10 months. 

The last casualty in the local newspaper field occurred when 
the Meriden News-Digest ceased publication in April 1954. This 
newspaper was the successor to the Meriden Star, a weekly 
established June 15, 1950 with the backing of the International 
Typographical Union after members of its local had walked out 
of the Record-Journal plant. On July 17, 1951, the format was 
changed from the orthodox page size to tabloid size. Before the 
end, when the union had tired of enormous expenditures and the 
rapidly mounting losses from the operations, efforts were made 
unsuccessfully to attract local capital. The plant on South Colony 
Street was closed and the equipment offered for sale. The final 
edition appeared April 23, 1954. 

The Independent, published by Robert L'Heureux, a former 
employee of the News-Digest, was started here as a weekly on 
May 20, 1954. 



206 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR 



Financial Institutions 



One of the more important factors responsible for Meriden's 
continuing growth and prosperity is the stability of its financial 
institutions. Sound in the beginning, they have remained sound 
through good times and bad. The worst periods of depression 
have not weakened them materially. There has never been an 
instance of a major bank failure here. 

The thrifty habits of Meriden citizens are reflected in steadily 
increasing savings accounts and in a large percentage of individual 
home ownership. Business and industry are able to depend upon 
the local banks for current financing and assistance in expansion. 

The total assets of the nine institutions, as of December 31, 1955, 
were $112,272,048.22, not counting the trust funds in their 
keeping. Included in this figure are the assets of the Home 
National Bank and Trust Company; the Connecticut Bank and 
Trust Company, East Main and West Main branches; the Puritan 
Bank and Trust Company; the Meriden Savings Bank; the City 
Saving Bank; the Meriden Permanent Savings and Loan Associa- 
tion; the First Federal Savings and Loan Association, and the 
Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit Company. 

Home National Bank and Trust Company 

The Home National Bank and Trust Company completed its 
first century in 1954, and held a special observance at the time of 
its annual meeting, January 12, 1955. 

A group of local businessmen met in 1854 to form a bank for 
"home benefit," and the result was the "Home Bank of West 
Meriden," which became the Home National Bank of Meriden 
on January 6, 1865 and the Home National Bank and Trust 
Company of Meriden on February 1, 1947. In the year when it 
was founded, the population of Meriden was 3,559. The course 
of business was steadily westward to concentrate in the vicinity 
of the railroad. The bank was started with an initial subscription 
of $100,000. Its first quarters were in rented rooms of the Young 
Men's Institute in the Collins Block on the east side of Colony 

207 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

Street. Two years later, in 1856, it was moved across the street 
to the present location at Church and Colony Streets. The 
building was owned by Henry Butler, and the bank purchased it 
from him in 1858 for $3,750. In 1863, this old wooden structure 
was removed, and the bank opened a large, new brick building, 
erected on the same site to house its growing activities. At the 
same time, the land immediately south was sold for $3,000, so the 
corner property was obtained at a net cost to the stockholders of 
$750. The original wooden building was moved to the corner of 
Camp and Colony Streets, where it stood for many years. 

The brick building erected in 1863 had been outgrown 20 years 
later, and was completely remodeled in 1885. 

Again, in 1921, the bank's directors agreed that larger banking 
quarters were necessary. The brick building, occupied for 59 years, 
was moved to the adjacent lot in the rear at 14 Vi Church Street, 
and rechristened the Central Building. The present bank building 
was erected on the corner site and opened in 1922. Several times 
since, the quarters have been expanded. In 1949, the main office 
was enlarged by the addition of a south wing, and in 1952 a 
modernization program was completed to provide more space 
for the bookkeeping department. In 1954, the main office was 
connected with the building at the rear. 

On June 2, 1946, an office was opened in Cheshire in rented 
quarters. The response was gratifying, and in 1953 the bank 
erected a colonial type brick building to serve Cheshire's banking 
needs. 

In Meriden, an uptown office was opened in leased quarters 
at 489 Broad Street on February 1, 1950. 

S. W. Baldwin was the first president of the bank and A. C. 
Wetmore its first secretary. The original directors were Julius 
Pratt, S. W. Baldwin, Eli Butler, Henry C. Butler, James S. 
Brooks, Howell Merriman, A. C. Wetmore, James A. Frary and 
Fenner Bush. The first cashier was H. C. Young. Among these 
names will be recognized men who played a large part in the 
development of Aleriden around the middle of the last century 
and later. 

Eli Butler became president in 1856 and Abiram Chamberlain 
succeeded to that position in 1881 after Air. Butler's death. He 
served 30 years as president, and was elected Governor of Con- 
necticut in 1902 while holding the presidency of the bank. 

208 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

The fourth president was Junius Norton, elected in 1911. After 
his death in an automobile accident, Edgar J. Doolittle, a well- 
known local manufacturer, was elected president in 1913. Charles 
S. Perkins became president in 1926, after Mr. Doolittle's death. 
George J. Sokel was elevated to the presidency in 1934, when 
Mr. Perkins died. The late Arthur S. Lane was then elected to 
the new office of chairman of the board. 

The assets of the bank, as of December 31, 1955, were 
$25,046,802, a figure which tells its own story of growth under 
sound management. 

Connecticut Bank & Trust Company 

Through merger of the Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company 
and the Phoenix State Bank and Trust Company of Hartford in 
1954, the Connecticut Bank and Trust Company was created. 
The East Main and West Main branches of the Hartford-Con- 
necticut Trust Company then became branches of the consoli- 
dated institutions under the new name. Separately, their identities 
date back to much earlier periods in Meriden history, when they 
were known respectively as the Meriden National Bank and the 
First National Bank. 

The Meriden National Bank, now the East Main Branch, is 
the oldest bank in Meriden. It was chartered by the General 
Assembly in June 1833, and began business with a capital of 
$100,000 in the dwelling of William Yale at 447 Broad Street. The 
following year, a new brick bank building was erected at 529 
Broad Street, on the east side of the street, a short distance north 
of East Main Street. The two-story brick building, with white 
columns supporting the porch over the colonial doorway, later 
became the residence of Hermon E. Hubbard. 

The first board of directors consisted of Silas Mix, Samuel Yale, 
Elisha Cowles, Stephen Taylor, Ashabel Griswold, James S. 
Brooks, Noah Pomeroy, John D. Reynolds and Walter Booth. 
Ashabel Griswold was the first president and Francis King the 
first cashier. 

In 1836, the bank's capital was increased to $150,000. General 
Walter Booth became president and Harry Hayden was named 
cashier after Mr. King's death in 1837. 

Noah Pomeroy, Joel H. Guy and Joel I. Butler were other 

209 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

early presidents. Owen B. Arnold, who followed Mr. Butler in 
office, was president until his death in 1900. 

The bank remained on Broad Street more than 50 years. In 
1885, it moved downtown to occupy the four-story brick building 
on East Main Street where it has been located ever since. Judge 
Levi E. Coe became president in 1900, and died in 1905, when 
he was succeeded by George M. Clark, who held the office until 
his death in 1916. In that year, Herman Hess was elected president. 
He was followed in that office by Harris S. Bartlett, who was 
succeeded in 1935 by Burton L. Lawton. 

In May 1946, when Harold F. Merz was president, the stock- 
holders of the Meriden National Bank voted to tranfer all the 
bank's assets and good will to the Hartford-Connecticut Trust 
Company. Mr. iMerz was retained as vice president of the 
Hartford Connecticut Trust Company and manager of the East 
Main Branch. Today, he is vice president and manager of both 
the East Main and West Main branches of the Connecticut Bank 
and Trust Company. Howard F. Buttner, assistant vice president, 
is stationed at the East Main Branch. 

In November 1955, plans were announced by Lester E. Shippee, 
chairman of the Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, to erect 
a modern addition to the East Main Branch. It will adjoin the 
present building, and will occupy land in front of the Main 
Street Baptist Church. The bank has owned this site, at the corner 
of East Main and Crown Streets since 1945. The new building 
will be of modern design, with the use of much plate glass, and 
will have a sidewalk teller's window. 

The First National Bank, now the West Main Branch, was 
established in 1863. Its original location was approximately the 
site of the present building, which it shares with the City 
Savings Bank and the Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit Company. 
The small wooden structure, which it occupied when it started, 
was replaced by a brick building in 1872. When the City Savings 
Bank was organized in 1874, it located in the same building. The 
Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit Company became the third 
occupant of this building when it was organized in 1889. Addi- 
tional room was required by all three institutions, and the entire 
building was reconstructed in 1939. It was opened for public 
inspection on January 20, 1940, and began business in its new 
quarters immediately afterward. 

210 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

The West Main Branch is on the west side of the main lobby, 
and the City Savings Bank on the east. The Meriden Trust and 
Safe Deposit Company has its quarters at the rear. 

Joel H. Guy was the first president of the First National Bank. 
John D. Billard succeeded to the presidency in 1881 after the 
death of Mr. Guy. After Mr. Billard's death, Charles F. Rockwell, 
who had been cashier, became president and served until his 
death in 1923. He was succeeded by Floyd Curtis, with Ray E. 
King as cashier. After the absorption of the First National Bank 
by the Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company in 1933, Mr. Curtis 
was elected vice president in charge of the local branch. Mr. King 
was elected assistant vice president. Wilber W. Gibson at that 
time became chairman of the advisory board, consisting of local 
men. 

Mr. King has since retired, and Harold F. Merz is assistant 
vice president in charge, with the East Main branch also under 
his supervision. Dudley A. Dutton and Eric A. Walther are 
assistant vice presidents. 

The combined assets of the two branches, as of December 31, 
1955, were $8,840,064.22. 

Puritan Bank and Trust Company 

The Puritan Bank and Trust Company had its origin when the 
state legislature authorized its incorporation in 1907. The incor- 
porators were Francis Atwater, Dr. Frederick L. Murdock, Henry 
T. King and Charles C. Glock. 

The first meeting of the incorporators took place in August 
1912, five years after the legislature had taken action. The incor- 
porators then voted to solicit subscriptions to the stock of the 
proposed new bank, the shares to be sold at $100 par value. 

One hundred and eighty-three subscribers took up $54,700 in 
stock, which was later raised to an even $55,000, and the bank 
was launched. In 1928, the capital was increased to $75,000, and, 
in December of the same year, was stepped up to $100,000. The 
capital stock of the bank is now $150,000, the last change in capital 
structure having been made in 1945. The bank has been a member 
of the Federal Reserve system since 1941, and all its deposits are 
insured. 

The first meeting of the stockholders was held October 10, 
1912, with Gilbert Rogers as temporary chairman and Francis 

211 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

Atwater as clerk. By-laws were adopted at that meeting, and the 
following directors elected: Frank D. Smith, C. F. Fox, William 
T. McKenzie, John R. Barnes, William A. Kelsey, Herbert Mills, 
Gilbert Rogers, Hermon E. Hubbard, Lewis E. Clark, Henry C. 
Bibeau, John R. Williams, D. M. Begley, H. W. Morse, Dr. E. 
W. Smith and Sylvester Moscaletis. Gilbert Rogers was elected 
the first president, and H. E. Kneath treasurer and secretary. 

The bank began business in an old wooden building at 27 East 
Main Street. At the end of the first year, its resources were 
$233,306.24. In 1914, Mr. Rogers resigned as president, and C. E. 
Schunack was elected to succeed him. After Mr. Schunack's 
death in 1927, W. S. Alexander, who had been treasurer of the 
bank since 1921, was elected president. In 1936, Clarence S. 
Powers, who had been a director of the bank since 1928, and who 
had served for a year as vice president, was elected to succeed 
Mr. Alexander, who had resigned as president and moved away 
from Meriden. 

Today the bank is at the same location which it has occupied 
since 1912, but its quarters have been completely modernized. In 
1924, the old wooden structure w T as replaced from foundation to 
roof and made into a modern, fireproof building. A new facade of 
Indiana limestone and granite was installed, and the interior was 
completely rearranged. A new vault was also installed. Changes 
made since that time have kept pace with the institution's growth 
and needs. 

As of December 31, 1955, the assets of the Puritan Bank and 
Trust Company were $3,718,884.49. 

The Meriden Savings Bank 

The Meriden Savings Bank received its charter on July 16, 1851, 
which had been granted by the state on July 12. At its first 
meeting, Enos H. Curtiss was elected president, Benjamin H. 
Catlin vice president, and Julius Pratt, Charles Parker, Lewis Yale, 
Joel H. Guy, Edwin E. Curtiss, Curtis L. North, David N. Ropes, 
Howell Merriman, and Henry W. Saltonstall as directors. On 
July 21, three vice presidents were added: Walter Booth, Elah 
Camp, and Ashbil Griswold. 

It was voted to locate the bank at the home of Joel H. Guy 
on Broad Street. Mr. Guy was the first treasurer, and also held 
the office of secretary. 

212 




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Roger Sherman School Addition 




The Nathan Hale School 



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Curtis Memorial Library 




The Home Club 




The Meriden Post Office 



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Curtis Home for Aged Women 




First Methodist Church 








Temple B'Nai Abraham 




Masonic Temple 




Elks' Clubhouse 




The Bradley Memorial Home 





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Corner of Campus, Connecticut School for Boys 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

On August 2, 1851, the first actual deposit, amounting to $100, 
was made by Asahel H. Curtiss. The first loan was to Wesley M. 
Johnson on house and land at the corner of Liberty and Center 
Streets. 

In 1854, the bank moved to the Coe building on the southwest 
corner of East Main and Broad Streets, next to the Center Congre- 
gational Church. This building stood until 1894, when it was 
condemned and torn down to widen the corner. 

In 1864, the bank moved to the Town Hall, and used its vault 
for the safekeeping of its securities. In 1870, E. E. Curtiss, Eli 
Butler, and I. C. Lewis, a committee appointed to obtain a new 
location, recommended the purchase of the P. J. Clark property, 
at the corner of East Main and Veteran Streets. The bank 
occupied the west store in this building until 1882, when the 
building was moved back on Veteran Street and a new structure 
erected in its place. This brick block remained the bank's quarters 
until July 1925, when the new banking house erected at East Main 
and Crown Streets was formally opened. 

From 1851, the following have served as presidents of the 
Meriden Savings Bank: Enos H. Curtiss, 1851-1854; and again 
from 1857 to 1862; Benjamin H. Catlin, from 1854 to 1857; Edwin 
E. Curtiss, from 1862 to 1881; Levi E. Coe, from 1881 to 1903; 
John L. Billard, from 1903 to 1914; Eugene A. Hall, from 1914 to 
1923; John G. Nagel from 1923 to 1941, and Llewellyn A. Tobie 
from 1941 to date. 

Like all chartered Connecticut savings banks, the Meriden 
Savings Bank is a mutual institution, owned by its depositors. Its 
assets, as of December 31, 1955, were $23,485,682.03. Through 
mortgage loans made on local property it has contributed greatly 
to the growth of the city during its life span of nearly 105 years. 

The City Savings Bank 

The City Savings Bank was organized in 1874. The original 
incorporators were Joel H. Guy, Charles L. Upham, John C. 
Byxbee, Jared R. Cook, John D. Billard, John Tait, H. L. 
Schleiter, George W. Smith, William H. Miller, A. C. Wetmore, 
RatclirT Hicks, J. S. Wightman, Randolph Linsley, William 
Lewis, E. B. Everitt, and Gilbert Rogers. 

Joel H. Guy was the first president, and upon his death in 1881, 
John D. Billard was elected to the presidency, serving until his 

213 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

death in 1902. Charles L. Rockwell, who had been treasurer, was 
his successor. Frederick H. Billard succeeded Mr. Rockwell as 
president, and held that office until 1944, when he was elected 
to the office of chairman of the board of directors. Harold L. 
Wheatley, who has served the bank continuously since 1898, was 
chosen to succeed him. 

Mr. Billard held the office of chairman until his death. Mr. 
Wheatley continued as president until the annual meeting on 
January 19, 1955, when Henry L. Ketelhut, who had been asso- 
ciated with the bank for 35 years, was elected president, and Mr. 
Wheatley became chairman of the board. 

The first annual meeting of the bank was held July 1, 1875, 
when deposits of $20,418.03 were reported, with 185 separate 
accounts. Assets as of December 31, 1955 were $12,760,162.37. 

The bank has always assisted in home financing for responsible 
persons on a sound basis, and its mortgage loans have done much 
toward building the community to its present size. Steadily 
increasing deposits over the years testify not only to the thrift of 
Meriden people, but to their satisfaction in the service rendered. 

The Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit Company 

Quartered in the same building with the Connecticut Bank and 
Trust Company and the City Savings Bank, the Meriden Trust 
and Safe Deposit Company was organized in 1889 by Walter 
Hubbard, Charles L. Rockwell, Charles F. Linsley, Isaac C. Lewis, 
John L. Billard, Nathaniel L. Bradley, John D. Billard, George R. 
Curtis, and Charles Parker. These men, all community leaders of 
their time, had in mind the growing need for a permanent 
institution to act as executor, administrator, guardian, and trustee 
of estates. A special charter was obtained from the legislature 
incorporating the company. Isaac C. Lewis was the first president, 
succeeded in turn by Walter Hubbard, Charles L. Rockwell, and 
W. B. Church, who still holds the presidency. 

The company has gained a wide reputation for careful, 
responsible management of estates. Serving on its board today, 
as in the past, are men identified with some of the most important 
interests in the city. 

The vault, with full safety equipment, offers complete safety- 
deposit protection. 

The assets of the company, as of December 31, 1955, were 

214 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

$319,145. Trust funds amounting to $23,429,090 were under the 
care of the institution on that date. 

The Meriden Permanent Savings and Loan Association 

The Meriden Permanent Building and Loan Association was 
organized September 28, 1888. The change in name, substituting 
the word "savings" for "building," was made last year. The 
association was incorporated in 1889. The incorporators were 
Dr. C. H. S. Davis, Orlando Burgess, John Webb, W. W. Mosher, 
Robert Bowman, William H. Miller, William G. Hooker, W. H. 
Bulmer, Thomas Vernon, Charles L. Hinman, Albert Furniss, 
Oliver McCarthy, William H. Neibour, E. G. Pepper, Charles C. 
Powers, Benjamin Page, H. K. White, E. A. Chapman, and Frank 
A. Camp. O. W. Burgess became the first president, John Webb, 
secretary, and W. W. Mosher, treasurer. The first quarters were 
in the old Byxbee Block in 1889. In 1894, the offices were removed 
to the Wilcox Block and remained there until the present banking 
building on Colony Street was constructed. The building was 
opened for business on March 17, 1922. 

Leonard S. Savage, who retired in 1929, was secretary of the 
institution for 38 years. He died in 1932. 

W. M. Miles was president at the time when the present 
building was opened, succeeding D. F. Powers in that office in 
1922. After the death of Mr. Miles in 1938, Irving J. Meiklem was 
elected president to succeed him, and still holds that office. Albert 
J. Lirot is vice president and secretary. 

In 1950, the banking quarters of the institution were completely 
remodeled. The front and main floor were rebuilt, and a new 
facade and vestibule were installed. An addition was also con- 
structed at the rear. A new vault was another feature of the 
modernization program. 

On April 1, 1955 an important addition to the association's 
property was recorded when it took title to land and buildings 
on Colony Street between its headquarters and the driveway of 
the Post Office on the north. On the property was the office 
building of the W. H. Squire Company, which it vacated, 
removing to 204 Colony Street. The old Collins residence, which 
had been remodeled for office tenants, was part of the deal 
concluded with the Meriden Title Finance Corporation, Mrs. 
Robert A. Squire, and Mrs. Roger W. Squire. 

215 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

The Collins home was long the residence of Miss Sarah E. 
Collins, who died in 1949. It was built the year she was born, 1859. 
The land on which it stood was originally part of the Brooks 
farm, a portion of which was sold by Judge James S. Brooks, 
Miss Collins' maternal grandfather, to provide the railroad with a 
right of way. 

In September 1955, the association received a permit to erect 
a $71,000 one-story addition to its facilities, on the land purchased 
in April. Removal of the Collins home provides space for a 37-car 
parking lot. A drive-in window for the convenience of share- 
holders and savers, reached by means of a horseshoe-shaped 
driveway, is a feature of the plan. The new addition joins the 
building on the north side. The assets of the association have 
increased by more than $5 million in the last four years, making 
the expansion necessary. As of December 31, 1955, they were 
>,991,315.17. 



First Federal Savings and Loan Association 

The First Federal Savings and Loan Association was originally 
the Fourth Meriden Building and Loan Association, formed in 
1900. 

The late Fred Mills was president for many years, and was 
succeeded after his death by his son Stanley Mills. Leo E. Weis- 
leder was elected president in 1935. He was succeeded by H. 
Dudley Mills, who had long been executive secretary of the 
association. 

The original office was part of the office of the W. H. Squire 
Company, when it was located in the Byxbee Block, and collec- 
tions were made there on Tuesday nights. Later, offices were 
located in the Morse and Cook Block and the Hall and Lewis 
Building, now the Cherniack Building. Steadily increasing business 
produced the need for a larger and permanent home, and the 
association in 1926 purchased a building on Church Street from 
Lew Aailler, building contractor, who had used it as his own 
headquarters. The building was remodeled, and served until it 
was decided in 1940 to erect a new building on the site, and the 
old building was razed. 

The formal opening of the new banking quarters took place 
on July 12, 1941. It is a modified Georgian type, of brick con- 
struction, with limestone and artificial stone trim. At the time, 

216 



FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

the facilities were thought to be ample, but expansion was 
required in less than a decade. In 1949, plans were announced by 
Mr. Mills to construct an addition to double the floor space of 
the institution, by utilizing the entire rear parking lot and drive- 
way, thus gaining space 30 by 40 feet. Space in the front formerly 
occupied by offices was added to the lobby. The completely 
remodeled building was opened in April, 1950. 

In 1936, the conversion of the Fourth Meriden Building and 
Loan Association into the First Federal Savings and Loan Associa- 
tion of Meriden took place, when a charter was issued by the 
Federal Government, gaining more diversified plans of savings, 
and insurance of all accounts. A direct mortgage reduction plan 
was instituted at that time. 

In his annual report on January 18 this year, Mr. Mills pointed 
out that the association, entering its 55th year, had increased its 
savings accounts to more than three times the total of 10 years 
ago. At the end of 1955, savings amounted to 117,951,503.60, with 
18,500 savings accounts in Meriden and the branch in Cheshire 
operated by the institution. Assets as of December 31, 1955 were 
$21,109,992.94. 



217 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE 



Retail Business 



Meriden is a shopping center for this part of Connecticut. 
Located almost exactly in the geographical center of Connecticut, 
on the main line of the New Haven Railroad, with bus service 
from all directions and excellent highways and parkways to and 
through the city, its accessibility is a prime advantage for area 
shoppers. 

But accessibility by itself does not account for the large volume 
of business done annually by Meriden retail stores. Local mer- 
chants are, for the most part, alert and progressive. Nearly every 
older store in or near the center has been altered in recent years 
to bring it up to date. Many new stores have come into the retail 
picture since the end of World War II. The style element in 
merchandise has become increasingly important. Prices and values 
compare favorably with the offerings presented in much larger 
cities. Courteous consideration for the customer's needs is 
stressed everywhere. 

The city has cooperated with the merchants by providing 
convenient municipal parking areas on Church Street, in the new 
yard between South Grove Street and Butler Street, on South 
Colony Street, and on Colony Street north of the Post Office. In 
addition, there are parking areas in connection with a number of 
stores and privately operated yards where parking space is 
available for a small fee. 

The curbs in the business district are metered, to prevent the 
monopolization of space and give short-time shoppers a place to 
park. 

The Merchants' Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce, to which 
45 local business firms belong, conducts various shopping events 
throughout the year and helps to keep retail standards high. 

It is not the purpose of this volume to list all of the Meriden 
stores which have come and gone in the last 150 years, or even to 
mention all that are here at present. Space does not permit any 
such enumeration. The best that can be done is to give briefly 
the histories of some of the older establishments. 

218 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

Upham's Department store is by far the oldest of these. It 
traces its origin back to "Squire" Eli Birdsey, shrewd pioneer 
of the uptown district, who opened a store near the intersection 
of Broad and East Main Streets in 1836. When the business center 
drifted westward, the firm of Ives, Upham & Rand opened a store 
on Colony Street. This was soon after the Civil War, when Col. 
Charles L. Upham and Lieut. Philip C. Rand became partners of 
John Ives, who had worked for Mr. Birdsey in the uptown store. 
When the Winthrop Hotel Block was erected in 1883, the store 
moved there, and, in 1909, purchased land to the north and 
erected a large addition. Additional land to the north of the 
building was acquired in 1913. Col. Upham, who had served 
brilliantly in the Civil War, who had held the office of mayor, 
and who had taken part in many civic enterprises, died in 1929. 
The business was carried forward by his three sons, Charles L., 
Francis C, and William H. Upham. 

Boynton's, Inc., large ready-to-wear store for men and boys, 
was founded in 1902 as the Besse-Boeker Company. For many 
years, it was at 19 Colony Street. In 1920, the present four-story 
and basement building was erected on the site of the old Meriden 
Y.M.C.A. building. Arthur E. Boynton came here soon after 
the business was opened, and became the resident managing 
partner. The store was then known as the Besse-Boynton Com- 
pany. Carlton P. Spear, Mr. Boynton's half-brother, became 
associated with the firm, and united with him in purchasing the 
business from the estate of Lyman Besse in 1930. Later, Clarence 
E. Carr obtained an interest, and Mr. Spear's son, Lewis M. Spear, 
also became an executive in the business. 

Samuel L. Beloff founded the Styletex Company in 1920, and 
became one of Meriden's most enterprising merchants in the 
women's apparel business. His first store was at 19 Colony Street, 
in the store which had been vacated by Besse-Boynton. In 1941, 
he purchased the G.A.R. block on Colony Street, and remodeled 
it into a handsome store of the latest design, later adding the store 
just to the north of these premises. Mr. BelofT's sons, Arthur and 
Marvin, are active in the management of the business. 

Hamrah's moved to their present location, 19 Colony Street, 
after occupying a store in the Cherniack Building, then the Hall & 
Lewis Building, for a number of years. The business, conducted 
by several members of the Hamrah family, handles household 

219 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

linens, draperies, lingerie, imported novelties and many other 
lines. Charles Hamrah conducts an establishment at 75 South 
Colony Street devoted to rugs, other floor coverings, and rug 
renovation. 

The Reed-Holroyd Company, 7 Colony Street, has a long 
history dating back to the time when Howard Bros, furniture 
store occupied the same location. This business was purchased 
early in the century by the Reed Housefurnishing Company 
which, in turn, was absorbed by the present company, which also 
operates stores in Wallingford and Middletown. 

The Cherniack Company, another old firm, which began as a 
fur establishment 69 years ago, purchased the Hall & Lewis 
building in 1941 and remodeled it to provide quarters for its fur 
and fashion shop at 2 Colony Street, as well as for its fur-fashion- 
ing and fur-renovation business. The block is now known as the 
Cherniack Building. 

The New York Dress Goods Store at 25 Colony Street is the 
outgrowth of the dry goods business founded in 1917 by the late 
Samuel Umansky. It was originally located at 42 West Main 
Street. The present store, with basement, was opened in 1919. 

The Meriden Furniture Company, 55 Colony Street, was 
established in 1890 by F. J. O'Neil and C. E. Flynn as O'Neil & 
Flynn who, in addition to dealing in furniture, conducted an 
undertaking business. Fred J. Winder was later taken into the 
firm. Both of the original partners died, and Mr. Winder sold 
out his interest in the business, which is now conducted by 
Herman Gold. 

The John F. Butler Company, now known as the Butler Paint 
Company, at 51 Colony Street, is an even older concern. It was 
established in 1876 under the name of Butler & Larkin. The 
original place of business was in the Hicks Building on Colony 
Street, next to the old Meriden House. Later, it was in the Wilcox 
Block. The present building was erected in 1894 by Mr. Butler 
in conjunction with O'Neil & Flynn. In 1907, William O. Butler, 
son of the founder, became connected with the business which 
he still operates. 

The history of Emerson & Whitney, 43 Colony Street, began 
in 1884, when the New England Boot and Shoe House was 
founded by J. H. Warshauer. Since 1922, the business has been 
located in the Colony Building. It was one of the original tenants 

220 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

when the building was erected in that year. 

Jepson's Book Store, 31 Colony Street, was established in 1910 
by Miss Louise J. Jepson. The first store was at Crown and East 
Main Street. In 1915 it moved to 4 Colony Street, in the Meriden 
House Block. For a time it was at 7 West Main Street, just 
around the corner. In 1922, another move took place, into the 
new Colony Building, which had just been completed. The most 
recent move, made several years ago, was to the present location. 

Stockwell's, 36 Colony Street, is another old business. The 
Boston & Meriden Clothing Company was doing business at 34 
and 36 Colony Street in 1906. In 1915, the business was conducted 
as the A. T. Gallup Company. By 1920, it had become Gallup, 
Stockwell & Co., and the present name was adopted when Harry 
Stockwell, long associated with the business, bought out the 
Gallup interests in 1935. George F. Lewis and Harold J. Wuster- 
barth took over the business after Mr. Stockwell's death, and Mr. 
Lewis in 1956 became the sole proprietor. 

Michaels Jewelers is the successor to Michaels-Maurer, a firm 
which opened a store at 21 West Main Street in 1926. The business 
actually dates back to 1900, when A. Michaels began business in 
Halifax, Nova Scotia. The present large store is at 17 Colony 
Street. 

Most of the stores on West Main Street are products of more 
recent times, although a few had their origins many years ago. 

John F. Molloy, stationer, 20 West Main Street, is one of these. 
He began business in 1904 at 5l l / 2 West Main Street. From 
there, he moved to the Meriden House Block, then to the Byxbee 
Block, and from there to 8 West Main Street. As the business 
assumed larger proportions, especially in the distribution of 
newspapers and periodicals, he found further expansion necessary, 
and purchased the building in which the store is now housed, with 
loading facilities opening on Hanover Street. The building was 
remodeled, and an addition was constructed running through to 
the street in the rear. Stanley McGar, associated with Mr. Molloy, 
is part owner, and the structure is now known as the Molloy- 
McGar Building. 

The Ailing Rubber Company at 12 West Main Street was 
established here in 1912 next to the present location of the 
Reed-Holroyd Company on Colony Street. In 1919, it was moved 
to the present location. 

221 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

The greatest change on West Alain Street in recent history 
occurred in 1941, when seven blocks of property on the south side 
of the street, extending from the Connecticut Bank and Trust 
Company building to Katt Bros, store were sold to the Tishman 
interests of New York City and several large stores were con- 
structed to take the place of the old stores which were razed. The 
only exception was the Sugarman Block, which had been opened 
in 1937. New companies were formed to hold the properties and 
erect and lease the new stores. Occupying the stores built at that 
time are Genung's, Inc., one of a series of stores operated in 
New York state and Connecticut by the same firm; the W. T. 
Grant Company, which moved from across the street to the 
largest of the new stores on the south side of the street; Nugent's 
Dress Shop, Berley's, and the Miles Shoes Company. The Genung 
store has nearly 30,000 square feet of floor space and the Grant 
store contains 32,000 square feet. 

E. F. Powers Shoe Store was at 27 West Main Street at the 
time of the Centennial. Years later, it moved to 6 West Main 
Street. Manning & Conwell's Shoe Store, which had been located 
on Colony Street, took over the business at this location. 

Church & Morse were at 8 West Main Street in 1906, remaining 
there until 1925, when their hardware business was removed to 
25 South Colony Street, where the premises were completely 
remodeled, with two stores thrown into one. Church & Morse was 
established in 1872 under the firm name of Church & Sprague, 
and was reorganized under the present name in 1879. 

The J. C. Penney Company, one of the large system of 
stores operated throughout the country under that name, has 
been established here since 1928 at 43-45 West Main Street. 

The F. W. Woolworth Company, formerly on Colony Street, 
moved to 35 West Main Street, when the ground floor of the 
Derecktor Building at Colony and W 7 est Main Streets was com- 
pletely remodeled. The block in which the store is located was 
purchased this year by Maurice Zuckerman, owner of the 
Woman's Shop in the same building. The changes in the Dereck- 
tor Building included a large store for the Liggett company, and 
a store with entrances on Colony Street and West Main Street 
for Kresge's. 

The business of the J. Lacourciere Company at 55 Grove 
Street was founded in 1900. It is one of the oldest stores in the 

222 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

city handling paints and artist's supplies. 

Bullard, Fowler & LaPlace, Inc., 75-79 West Main Street, was 
established in 1926 by Irving M. Fowler, H. M. Bullard, and 
S. R. LaPlace of Deep River. All three of the founders have since 
died, but the furniture business has been continued. 

Brown's Department Store, 54 West Main Street, was founded 
in 1932 by Aaron Brown, who began the business as the Meriden 
Bargain Store at 58 West Main Street. The store was later 
expanded to take in the stores at 54 and 56 West Main Street, and 
the present name was adopted. 

The Growers Outlet at 82 West Main Street was started in 
1934 in a building erected by the Griswold, Richmond & Glock 
Company, an old Meriden firm long since disbanded. 

At 20 Pratt Street, the men's clothing business of Harry Israel, 
Inc., dates from the business established by the late Harry Israel 
in 1904 at 64 1 / 2 East Main Street. Since his death, it has been 
conducted by his brother, William Israel. The present large store 
was opened in 1928, and has been remodeled several times since. 

Also on Pratt Street is the firm of Oscar Gross & Sons, men's 
and boys' clothiers, at No. 28, a store which was originally 
known, when it was at 76 West Main Street 50 years ago, as 
Hyman & Gross. Since the death of Oscar Gross, the business 
has been conducted by his two sons, Samuel and Louis J. Gross. 
The store has been greatly enlarged under their management. 

One of the oldest stores in the downtown section is Little, 
Somers & Hyatt at 77 East Main Street which was started in 1872 
by Hubert Little as H. Little & Co. When J. E. Somers joined 
the firm, the name was changed to Little & Somers. The 
present name was adopted in 1883 when I. B. Hyatt bought an 
interest. Willard C. Hyatt is the active head of the concern, 
which specializes in paints, artists' materials and decorating. 

Wusterbarth Bros., 82 East Main Street, was founded in 1900 
on Miller Street, and was for many years at 45 Pratt Street until 
it removed to the present location in 1930. Originally dealing in 
sporting goods, it has specialized in toys in recent years. 

Broderick & Curtin's Pharmacy, established 1886, was at its 
present location, 42 East Main Street at the time of the Centennial. 
It is now owned and operated by Thomas Joyce. 

Charles J. Hayek's jewelry store, 17 East Main Street, is 
successor to the store once conducted by A. Langner at 20 West 

223 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

Main Street, which later became Langner & Hayek, and remained 
under that name until Mr. Hayek took over the business, which 
is now operated by his son, Charles J. Hayek, Jr. 

Uptown Section 

In the vicinity of Broad and East Main Streets, the original 
shopping district, are stores with histories running far back into 
the past. The J. F. Raven Hardware Company, 294 East Main 
Street, had its origin when Eli C. Birdsey engaged in the hardware 
business in 1854 in the same location. Upon Mr. Birdsey's retire- 
ment in 1917, the present company was formed, with J. F. Raven, 
Carl E. Raven and Guy Dutton in the active management. Carl E. 
Raven today is the head of the business. 

Fred L. Yale started in the grocery business in 1878 in the Coe 
Block next to the Center Congregational Church, a building torn 
down before the beginning of this century. The business was later 
moved to the Barnes Block on East Main Street, and finally to the 
present location, 298 East Main Street. Elwood Yale succeeded 
his father as the head of the concern, and his two sons, Frederick 
E. Yale and Oliver M. Yale, have long been associated with him 
in the business. 

The Lynch Drug Company, 298 East Main Street, was founded 
in 1868 by E. Lyman Marvin, and was the third drug store to be 
established in the city. In 1870, Mr. Marvin bought out the store 
of Davis & Greenfield at the present location. He was succeeded 
by his stepson, Willis N. Barber in 1891, who conducted the 
business until 1919, when his interest was purchased by Raymond 
M. Lynch, who took his brother William into partnership. The 
business changed hands in 1952, when the Lynch brothers sold 
out their interests to Walter J. Kopcza, Frank V. Chester, and 
Bernadine S. Potrepka of Southington. 

Anthony Mercaldi's shoe repair shop at 302 East Main Street, 
known as the American Shoe Repairing Company, has been in 
business for more than half a century. Anthony P. Mercaldi, Jr. 
is associated with his father in the business. 

Construction Firms 

Meriden has a number of long established construction firms 
which have acquired far more than a local reputation. They do 
a large volume of business annually in many states. 

224 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

The Lane Construction Corp., 965 East Main Street, occupies 
the large administration building erected for it in 1951 near 
the Wilbur Cross Parkway. The business was started in 1890 by 
John S. Lane, then of Hartford, who erected a stone-crushing 
plant on land leased from Bartholomew & Coe. Mr. Lane's first 
road work was in Windsor Locks that same year, and, from this 
start grew the present large business, which executes contracts 
throughout New England, New York, and in Pennsylvania. The 
Lane Construction Corp. was organized in 1902 to take over the 
road building department. The company has built hundreds of 
miles of excellent roads, including the new type of super-high- 
ways, airports and other work of a similar nature. Arthur F. 
Eggleston is president of the firm, and also of John S. Lane & Son, 
Inc., which includes the quarry interests. 

The H. Wales Lines Company, builder and distributor of 
building materials, with offices and yards at 134 State Street, is 
successor to George Bassett, who began business in 1843. He sold 
out to Perkins & Lines in 1864. From this small beginning grew 
the extensive business which has erected thousands of buildings 
in towns and cities scattered through several states. The late H. 
Wales Lines, who joined the business as a young man with 
experience in bricklaying, had a large part in the growth of 
Meriden. The business became H. Wales Lines & Co. in 1878, and 
the present company was formed ten years later. Nearly every 
important building in Meriden erected during the nineteenth 
century, and many in this century, were built by this firm. The 
present City Hall was one of its contracts. Charles S. Phelps, long 
associated wtih Mr. Lines, is chairman of the board, and Carl R. 
Langer is president. 

The L. Suzio Construction Company, another large contracting 
firm, was founded by the late Leonardo Suzio in 1896. Many large 
highway contracts in Connecticut are the work of the Suzio 
organization. The L. Suzio Concrete Company, an affiliated 
concern, supplies ready-mixed concrete, and has a plant on 
Westfield Road. Henry D. Altobello is president and treasurer 
of both companies. 

Another old contracting firm is the James T. Kay Company, 
127 State Street, which specializes in plumbing and heating. It 
was founded in 1872 by the late James T. Kay, and has been 
conducted for many years by his son, Frank E. Kay. 

225 



RETAIL BUSINESS 

The G. R. Cummings Roofing Company, 198-210 State Street, 
has carried out important contracts in many states. The business 
was established in 1899 by the late G. R. Cummings, and the 
present company was incorporated in 1921. It has one of the most 
modern and complete plants of the kind in the country. George 
R. Cummings, son of the founders, is president and treasurer. 

C. N. Flagg & Co., Inc. was organized in 1910 to do steam- 
fitting and plumbing contracting for larger buildings. Plant 
modernization became a specialty, together with wholesale piping 
and supplies. The firm has handled large contracts in many states. 
Its warehouses are at the corner of Griswold and Cambridge 
Streets, and the general offices were moved recently to Elm Street. 
Since the death of Charles N. Flagg, the founder, Peter Flagg, his 
son, has been the executive head of the concern. 

Building Supplies 

In the field of building supplies, the Lyon & Billard Company, 
founded in 1847, is the oldest concern. It was established by John 
D. Billard and George W. Lyon at 13 South Colony Street. In 
1873, John L. Billard, son of John D., was admitted to partnership. 
The business was incorporated in 1878. John L. Billard became 
president in 1902. He retired in 1923, when he was succeeded by 
A. J. White as president. 

The Meriden Lumber Company at 174 State Street was started 
in 1859 by Lyman & Clarke. The firm later became Clarke & 
Converse and, still later, Converse and Seymore. The business was 
incorporated in 1890 under its present name. W. F. Terrell, the 
present general manager and treasurer, became associated with 
the company in 1922. Charles H. Cuno is president, and Herbert 
J. Reeves vice president and secretary. After a fire, which wiped 
out most of the yard two years ago, it has been completely rebuilt. 



226 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX 



Parks and Playgrounds 

The Hanging Hills overlooking the city and visible in almost 
every part of it are a constant reminder that Meriden possesses 
one of the most beautiful recreation areas in the entire country. 
These hills, known as East Peak and West Peak, are located on 
the western boundary of Hubbard Park, comprising approxi- 
mately 1,200 acres of carefully kept woodland, lake, and stream, 
with playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming and wading pools, 
flower gardens, and picnic spots among their attractions. An 
extensive state park runs along the western ridge of mountains 
adjoining the land owned by Meriden. 

Hubbard Park does not stand alone. Spotted throughout the 
city are other conveniently located parks and playgrounds, each 
serving principally for a particular section, but open to all 
residents, young and old. 

In 1899, by an amendment of the city charter, the first park 
commission was created and placed in charge of all the parks. The 
playgrounds, as they developed, were administered separately 
under a recreation commission until the two boards were com- 
bined February 3, 1950 as the Meriden Park and Recreation 
Commission with four members. A full-time park superintendent 
and a director of recreation work together in supervising the 
care and maintenance of the parks and playgrounds, and guiding 
the activities of the planned program. During the summer months, 
the playgrounds are staffed by well qualified leaders and assistants. 
Lifeguards are stationed wherever there is public bathing, and 
free instruction in swimming is furnished to children and adults. 

Hubbard Park 

Most of the land in Hubbard Park was presented to the city by 
the late Walter Hubbard, who was president of the Bradley & 
Hubbard Mfg. Company, later absorbed by the Charles Parker 
Company. He gave it outright, with no strings attached, except 
that everything connected with the park was to remain free for 
the people of Meriden, and that no concessions for profit were 

227 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

ever to be allowed within the park area. In spite of sporadic efforts 
to obtain permission for refreshment stands on a commercial 
basis, the wishes of the donor have never been violated. This 
complete freedom from all types of commercialism is one of the 
principal charms of the park for nature lovers. 

Mr. Hubbard created a trust fund of $50,000, the interest on 
which was made available toward the upkeep of the park. 
Clarence P. Bradley, the son of his business partner, Nathaniel 
Bradley, set up a trust fund of equal amount in the terms of his 
will. Today, the sum realized from these two funds annually 
defrays only a small part of the expense of maintaining the park, 
due to the extensive improvements which have been made and 
the increasing cost of caring for the facilities. 

But the donor spent largely during his lifetime to develop the 
park according to his ideas. The outlay from his own resources 
amounted to between $400,000 and $500,000. Beginning in 1897, 
he cleared the land in the lower park, built numerous roads and 
trails and constructed Mirror Lake. The tower on East Peak, 
known as Castle Craig was another of his projects. It was 
patterned after the towers built by the Turks along the Danube 
River in the 12 th century. 

These jutting, precipitous formations which overhang the 
pleasant valley of A4eriden date from the glacial age, and are of 
especial interest to geologists. But East and West Peaks, for the 
average resident, have interests far separated from scientific 
research. 

West Peak was once the site of a number of summer homes. 
The first to build on the top of the mountain was W. H. Catlin, 
whose cottage was occupied for a number of years by Police 
Sergeant Herman Schuerer. Wilbur H. Squire built a spacious 
home later used by the Y.W.C.A. during the summer. The site 
was sold in 1939. Cornelius J. Danaher, Sr. erected a summer 
residence on the mountain, which he and his family used for 35 
years. Mr. Danaher also acquired about 40 acres of land near the 
summit, and 60 acres in addition on the plateau below the peak. 
Others who owned cottages on the mountain were Fred Hotchkiss 
and Thomas H. Burkinshaw. Some who had bought land did not 
build. Nearly all traces of the little colony have disappeared. 

Mr. Danaher once proposed the construction of an electric 
railway to the top of the mountain, but the proposal was defeated 

228 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

in a city referendum, mainly on the ground that the water in 
the reservoirs at the base might become contaminated. 

There are now three radio stations on West Peak. The first 
constructed is owned by Station WDRC of Hartford, one of 
the first stations in the country to send out frequency modulation 
broadcasts. It is located on land purchased from Mr. Danaher. 

Station WMMW owns a station on the peak, which also does 
FM broadcasting. It was built on land obtained from the late 
Levon Kassabian. Station WATR-TV of Waterbury also owns 
and operates a station on the peak. The Kassabian family still has 
a cottage on the mountain, the only one remaining of the 
numerous residences which were built for use there in the 
summer. 

Mr. Danaher has disposed of all his mountain holdings. He 
sold about 100 acres of land to the State of Connecticut as a State 
Park which remains as a reservation under state control. 

For a number of years, the state has maintained an observation 
tower there, used for spotting forest fires. It is manned during 
the seasons where the danger of fire in the woodlands is considered 
most serious. 

A beautiful winding road leads to the summit of East Peak, 
where the land in the vicinity of the tower has been leveled and 
turned into a hard-surfaced parking area for the automobiles of 
sightseers. Fireplaces for picnickers are close at hand. But many 
come just for the view, which comprises the wide range of 
territory from Mount Tom in Massachusetts to Long Island on 
the south. Long Island Sound is visible on a clear day from the 
top of the tower, which is reached by a flight of iron steps. The 
city spreads out from the lower fringes of the park, with part 
of the reservoir system in the foreground, and the high land on 
the eastern edge of Meriden at the extreme range of vision in 
that direction. The edges of this vantage point are protected by 
a stone balustrade and railing. 

There are several alternate routes up the mountainside. The 
more rugged of these are fit only for the hardiest of hikers, but 
there are easier paths for those with less climbing ability. One 
route is by way of the Fairview drive at the south end of 
Merimere Reservoir to the rest house half-way up the mountain, 
and from there up a steeper trail to the summit. 

For many years, motor vehicles were forbidden in the park, 

229 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

but those were horse-and-buggy times, when a leisurely drive 
in the family carriage was a favorite form of recreation. Large 
numbers of automobiles now pass through the park or halt by 
the roadside, and the parking area near Mirror Lake is always 
crowded with cars on week ends, winter and summer. 

The lake itself is a focal point for all-season activities. Swimming 
is not permitted there, and has not been allowed for many years, 
although at one time the lake shore was a public bathing beach. 
Fishing is also forbidden, except once a year in the spring, when 
the "fishing derby" is held for boys and girls, with a long list 
of prizes for different age groups. Hundreds of children take part 
in this event annually. 

In the spring, the whole lower park is a mass of bloom with 
thousands upon thousands of daffodils of many varieties. They 
spread out among the trees bordering the lake and approach the 
edges of the roadway, forming a sight which draws crowds of 
visitors, some of whom come for long distances to enjoy this 
lovely display. 

But this is only the season's opener. As it advances, the scene 
changes as more and more varieties of flowers burst into bloom 
under the skillful nursing of the park crews supervised by Mr. 
Barry. Some of the beds which have been developed show 
elaborate arrangements of plants and flowers developed by the 
expert gardeners. 

In the fall, a magnificent display of chrysanthemums, grown in 
the park greenhouses, is another attraction. Plant culture in the 
park began in 1948 when the greenhouse was built by park 
employees. 

Well-kept tennis courts are a feature of the park. They are 
open to all local tennis players during the season, but reservations 
must be fitted into a tight schedule due to the large number 
desiring to play. 

One of the most widely used facilities ever installed in the 
park is the Lions Club swimming pool, dedicated July 8, 1951. 
The Meriden Lions Club initiated this project and raised the funds 
to make it possible. Its members not only contributed liberally 
themselves, but conducted a campaign soliciting the support of 
the entire community. The money thus raised went far toward 
the construction of the pool, and the city cooperated to complete 
the project, which is maintained at city expense. Many types of 

230 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

pools were examined before the plan reached final form. The 
pool as built has proved most satisfactory. It contains 200,000 
gallons. During the season, the water is continuously purified. 
Thousands enjoy the facilities during the summer. Swimming 
classes and water events are held there. The pool is under constant 
supervision by qualified attendants employed by the city when 
it is in use. 

So great was the success of the swimming pool in the park 
that the Lions Club has been besieged with requests from parents 
on the east side to undertake the construction of a pool in that 
part of the city. On March 2 of this year, the Meriden Lions 
Welfare Project, Inc. announced that it would build the "Wishing 
Pool" for east side children, using the same plans that have proved 
so satisfactory in Hubbard Park. 

The Lions Club also sponsored and raised funds for the con- 
struction of a wading pool in the park for younger children, 
replacing the old wading pool which had become obsolete. It was 
opened in 1954. 

Camp Hubbard, a day camp for Meriden children, is maintained 
in the park during the summer by the Recreation Department. 
The Junior Chamber of Commerce constructed a shelter there 
in 1953. Buses carry the children to the park daily during the 
camping season, where they enjoy supervised play, and learn 
woodcraft and handicraft from the camp's staff of instructors and 
attendants. 

Band concerts in the park have become increasingly popular in 
recent years. A rustic band shell, placed at the foot of the natural 
amphitheater which slopes gradually down the crest of the hill 
overlooking the busiest portion of the park's activities, is an 
ideal spot for such concerts. A rustic bandstand at the foot of the 
hill has proved inadequate for the use of the Meriden City Band, 
made up of members of the local union of musicians, who have 
given these concerts free of charge for years, with the help of an 
appropriation from their national headquarters. In 1954, a cam- 
paign was started to raise funds for a music shell. With the help 
of the city, the new shell was constructed for the Sesquicentennial. 

One interesting feature of the park is a large slab bearing 
dinosaur footprints which are a reminder of the antediluvian 
monsters who once roamed this vicinity. 

Under rules adopted in 1953, Hubbard Park is closed from 

231 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

10 p.m. to 6 a.m. No commercial vehicles are allowed at any time. 
The speed limit within the park is 15 miles per hour. 

In winter, when the ice is pronounced safe, Mirror Lake is an 
ideal place for skating. The park crews clear the ice as soon as 
possible after every snowstorm. Lights are strung up for night 
skating, and the surface is thronged whenever conditions are 
favorable. A pavilion beside the lake furnishes shelter and a place 
where skates may be put on in comfort. 

Nearby is a playground, with swings and other equipment. 
Tables and chairs are placed at various vantage spots. On the 
western shore of the lake is an area much favored by picnickers. 
Near this area are the shelters for the flock of mallard ducks 
which lives in the park, under the protection and care of James 
Barry, park superintendent, and his helpers. The ducks show few 
signs of wildness in the carefully guarded life to which they have 
become accustomed. 

City Park 

City Park is the oldest park in the city. It has been in existence 
since 1880, and was formerly much more largely used than at 
present, especially in the years when public band concerts were 
presented there from a bandstand built for that purpose. 

Bounded by Bunker Avenue, Franklin Street, Park Avenue 
and Warren Street, City Park is mainly a haven for residents of 
the vicinity. There are nine acres within these boundaries. Some 
of the park's large trees fell victims to the hurricanes of 1938 
and 1944, but enough of them remain to provide delightful shade 
in summer. The lawns are a playground for the numerous children 
of the neighborhood. 

During World War II, after a long attempt to find a suitable 
location for quonset huts to be set up as accommodations for the 
overflow of war workers, it was decided to place some of them in 
City Park. After the war, when the housing situation was some- 
what relieved, the huts were removed. 

Brookside Park 

Brookside Park, like Hubbard Park, is a monument to the gener- 
osity of Walter Hubbard, who purchased the land in 1901 and 
turned it over to the city for park purposes. It contains 13 acres 
and extends from Camp to Broad Street on both sides of Harbor 

232 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

Brook, a distance of nearly three quarters of a mile. The brook 
flows through the entire park, and is kept in its channel by 
retaining walls for part of the distance. At one point, near the 
lower end, a bathing pool furnishes fun for children in summer. 
A bathhouse stands beside the pool. A wading pool and some 
playground equipment add to the pleasures of the park for 
younger children. 

Baldwin's Beach 

Before the Lions Pool in Hubbard Park was constructed, 
Baldwin's Pond had practically a local monopoly as a place for 
public swimming and bathing. Near the end of North Wall 
Street, it may also be reached from the prolongation of Britannia 
Street into Westfield Road. The city maintains a sandy beach 
beside the pond. Bathhouses are provided, and there is also a 
refreshment stand. Within easy swimming distance from shore, 
there is a float equipped with a diving tower. Swimming is under 
careful supervision by a staff employed by the Recreation Depart- 
ment. The pond is drained every season, and the water is tested 
frequently, as a sanitary precaution, after it has been refilled. 

Other Recreation Areas 

A beach at Beaver Pond is leased by the city to provide additional 
bathing facilities during the summer months. 

Dossin Park, below Hanover Pond, at the intersection of Coe 
Avenue and the road to Cheshire, was named for the late Oscar 
Dossin, who served Meriden for many years as a recreation com- 
missioner. A beach and bathhouse were constructed there for the 
use of the public, but tests revealed that the water was impure, 
and swimming was forbidden. The old Red Bridge, just below this 
point, is a spot where many residents of the older generations 
swam as boys, long before tests of the water at public bathing 
places became mandatory. 

Athletic Fields 

The city has seven athletic fields: Columbus Park, on Lewis 
Avenue, 10 % acres; Washington Park, 11 acres; Ceppa Field, 4% 
acres; North End Field, 1 l / 2 acres; South Meriden Field, 7 acres; 
Bronson Avenue Field, 2 % acres; Legion Field, 4 acres (leased by 
the city for a 10-year period). Some of these fields have been 

233 



MERIDEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS 

extensively developed. Washington Park has tennis courts and a 
field house, where a caretaker resides. Kindergarten classes are 
conducted there. Ceppa Field, named for the late Monsignor 
Ceppa of St. Stanislaus Church, which formerly owned the 
property, is equipped with lights for night baseball and football. 
The lights, gift of the International Silver Company, were 
formerly installed at Insilco Field. 

Twenty-three persons under the supervision of Bernard 
Sprafke, director, compose the personnel for the eight-week play- 
ground period. Only two school playgrounds are used in con- 
nection with this program: the Hanover School in South Meriden 
and the Benjamin Franklin School on the west side. 

Park Department employees are Irving Danielson, assistant to 
James Barry, park superintendent; William Remy, caretaker at 
City and Brookside Parks, who is assisted by Joseph Carabetta; 
John Erickson, Guido Bertagna, Fred Rudolph and Durwood 
Tompkins. Four of the men are stationed at Hubbard Park, but 
are moved to other areas as work is required. Lawrence Fraser is 
caretaker of Washington Park and John Borek is caretaker of 
Ceppa Field. During the summer, the following are engaged to 
take care of the extra work load: Fred Schlette, Legion Park; 
Michael Amoroso, Columbus Park; John Patrucco, Little League 
Field (on Britannia Street); Edward Everard, Bronson Avenue 
Field. 

A new field in South Meriden will be opened for the first time 
in the summer of 1956. It is on Meadow Street and borders on 
Hanover Pond. The area has been graded and seeded during the 
last two years. A backstop will be set up there, and a diamond 
will be constructed for baseball games. 



234 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN 



The Meriden Post Office 



Meriden Post Office, which now has receipts totaling one million 
dollars a year, from five different stations, began in 1806 when 
President Thomas Jefferson appointed Amos White as the first 
postmaster. The postal service was established in the city the 
same year it separated from Wallingford, in a building owned 
by Patrick Lewis at Broad and East Main Street. 

The present Federal Building at 87 Colony Street was built in 
1902 at a cost of more than $100,000. There is a classified post 
office, "Station A", at 231 East Main Street, and three contract 
stations: No. 1 at 445 Colony Street, No. 5 at 120 Springdale 
Avenue, and the South Meriden Station at 1 Main Street. 

A parcel post annex and garage at 141 Grove Street was opened 
in February 1955 for all parcels and the 14 government trucks. 
An addition to the Federal Building was completed in 1934. 

Joseph R. Ferrigno has been postmaster since March 17, 1955. 
He was acting postmaster from August 1, 1953 to 1955. Assistant 
postmaster is Maurice J. Looby, and superintendent of mails is 
John E. Doherty. 

The first postmaster, Amos White, was succeeded after several 
years by Patrick Lewis, owner of the post office building, who 
served until 1812. President Andrew Jackson appointed Levi 
Yale who was postmaster for 12 years. The post office moved in 
1828 to what is now 641 Broad Street, near Dayton Place. 

President William Henry Harrison appointed Richard Dowd 
who died after serving six months as postmaster. He was succeeded 
by Walter Booth who served three years under President John 
Tyler. 

In 1844 the businessmen of "West Meriden" agitated for their 
own post office. This was established in 1 845 on the Guy property 
on West Main Street, with Joel H. Guy as postmaster until 1849. 

Ira N. Yale was named "East Side" postmaster in 1845 by 
President James K. Polk in 1845 but died after three years and 
was succeeded by Almerson Ives. President Zachary Taylor 
appointed Hiram Hall who moved the operation to a brick 

235 



THE MERIDEN POST OFFICE 

building just for post office purposes. President Millard Fillmore 
appointed Asha H. Curtiss and in 1853 Hiram Hall was appointed 
for the second time and died in office. 

President Franklin Pierce appointed Bertrand Yale, who served 
seven years until President Abraham Lincoln reappointed Asha 
H. Curtiss. The post office was moved to the Franklin Hall 
Building, near the Congregational Church on Broad Street. In 
1865, Linus Birdsey, appointed by President Andrew Johnson, 
transferred the post office back to its old site. 

Meanwhile, Noah A. Linsley was appointed West Meriden 
postmaster by President Pierce, and moved the post office to 21 
West Main Street on the property of the F. J. Wheeler Company. 
When Joel Guy returned as postmaster in 1853, he moved it 
again to the south side of West Main Street, and later to the 
present site of the Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, 14 
West Main Street. Samuel B. Morgan served from 1858 to 1861, 
then George W. Rogers was appointed by President Lincoln. 
Postmaster Rogers moved to a brick structure at the corner of 
Colony and West Main Street, but the building was later 
destroyed by fire. 

A room was taken at 13 Colony Street, and in 1865 Wallis Bull 
was appointed postmaster. The following year, the operation was 
moved again to 37 Colony Street, in the north room of the old 
Byxbee Block. 

The East Side post office was transferred after the Civil War 
to John Ives' brick house at 489 Broad Street. In 1869, President 
Ulysses S. Grant appointed Lon Hall, who served for eight years, 
1869 to 1877. His brother, William F. Hall, was appointed by 
President Rutherford B. Hayes, and in 1880 the post office was 
moved to 320 East Main Street, now known as "Station A." 

The name "Meriden Post Office," the then official designation 
of the East Side or uptown post office, was moved to the West 
Side post office. The West Side post office had moved in 1877 
to the Hill Building on Winthrop Square after the appointment 
of Erwin D. Hall by President Hayes. In 1880 the post office was 
in the Wilcox Block. 

The next postmasters were William H. Miller, 1886-1890; 
Henry Dryhurst, 1890-94; and 1898-1914; John J. Anderson, 
1894-98; John F. Penders, 1914-23; James J. Fitzpatrick, 1923-36; 
and John J. Scanlon, 1936-53. 

236 



THE MERIDEN POST OFFICE 



Receipts in 1906, the Centennial year, were $75,000, with 20 
carriers and 18 clerks. In 1951 delivery service was extended to 
South Meriden. 



237 



CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT 



Public Institutions 



The Meriden Hospital 

The completely modernized Meriden Hospital of today is the 
result of a program which started in 1942 and culminated when 
the new addition was opened in 1952. Actually, the improvements 
did not cease at that point, but have been almost continuous since, 
and new goals appear at intervals above the horizon to keep pace 
with the needs of the area served. Since 1942, capital expenditures 
total approximately $2,400,000. 

The new building raised the capacity of the hospital to 220 
beds and 48 bassinets, or more than double its previous capacity. 
After it had been placed in service, in March 1952, the old 
building at the rear was completely remodeled and re-equipped 
to match the new facilities, providing a hospital plant which 
compares favorably with any hospital of its size. 

Although the first movement toward expansion began in 1942, 
it was impossible to begin construction during the war period, 
even after plans had been accepted and the necessary funds had 
been raised. There were further impediments in the period im- 
mediately after the war, principally the shortage of structural 
iron, steel, and other building materials. The first step was to build 
a new laundry and power house with surplus capacity looking 
far into the future. Then came the major structure, which had 
been planned with infinite care, and in consideration of the 
standards relating to the number of beds per thousand of popula- 
tion as set up by the U. S. Department of Public Health to 
provide for the areas of Meriden and Wallingford. During several 
periods since it was placed in use, the hospital has operated at 
full capacity. 

The history of the Meriden Hospital dates back to 1874 when 
Dr. James L. Terry, working in conjunction with Dr. E. T. 
Bradstreet, enlisted the aid of Mrs. Abiram Chamberlain in raising 
money for the establishment of the institution. As the result of a 
meeting in the Town Hall, attended by many physicians, and 

238 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

presided over by Mayor E. J. Doolittle, the mayor was authorized 
to seek a charter from the state legislature. The charter was 
granted by the General Assembly in January 1885. 

The next important step was taken in December of the same 
year, when a meeting was held at which Horace C. Wilcox, Seth 
J. Hall, Charles Parker, Walter Hubbard, Nathaniel L. Bradley, 
E. J. Doolittle, the Rev. J. H. Chapin, Levi E. Coe, and George 
R. Curtis were elected directors of the newly formed corporation. 
Six years were spent in settling upon a suitable site. The first 
location chosen was the Camp property, an octagonally shaped 
house on Franklin Street. But negotiations to purchase it were 
unsuccessful. Meanwhile, 18 physicians, irked by the delay, signed 
a petition urging the construction of an entirely new building. 

In 1892, after long deliberations, the directors authorized the 
purchase of the Jared R. Cook home on Cook Avenue, a mansard- 
roofed house built about 1872. The hospital continued to use 
this structure until it was torn down in 1923 to make room for 
new construction at that time. The house was extensively 
remodeled for hospital purposes, and various civic organizations 
participated in furnishing it, including the City Mission Society, 
the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and societies of the 
First Congregational Church. Dedication took place December 
21, 1892. 

The Women's Auxiliary, with an executive committee of 15 
members, had an important part in the operation of the hospital. 
The membership of the committee was eventually increased to 
40, and it continued to supervise the management of the hospital 
until 1920, when the institution had grown so large that the 
by-laws were changed to create an executive board of five 
members of the board of directors to take charge. 

The first medical staff was appointed with the aid of the 
Meriden Medical Society in March 1 894. Among the well-known 
attending physicians and surgeons were Doctors E. T. Brad- 
street, H. W. Delesdernier, J. D. Eggleston, N. Nickerson, S. 
Otis, A. W. Tracy, A. H. Fenn, F. P. Griswold, O. J. D. Hughes, 
H. A. Meeks, A. Ploetz, E. W. Smith, J. L. Gartland, E. W. 
Pierce, E. A. Wilson, F. H. Monroe, G. A. Peck, and William 
Galvin, together with a consulting staff of Doctors G. H. Wilson, 
C. H. S. Davis, John Tait, and E. C. Newport. 
The first matron was Mrs. Alice Baumann, who was succeeded 

239 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

in 1896 by Miss Bessie Livingston Webb. At that time, the 
medical staff was given full control over all nurses. 

An addition to the hospital was completed in 1905, providing 
an operating room, two wards, four private rooms, a diet kitchen, 
a large basement, and living quarters on the top floor for the staff. 
Again, many civic organizations assisted by providing equipment 
and furnishings. 

In 1910, N. L. Bradley, then president of the board of directors, 
and Mrs. Bradley purchased a house at 171 Cook Avenue and 
donated it to the hospital, completely furnished, to provide 
quarters for the nurses of the institution. Clarence P. Bradley, 
their son, donated $5,000 in 1915 for an addition to the nurses' 
home. 

The first X-ray equipment was installed in 1913 under the 
direction of Dr. L. F. Wheatley. 

In 1918, Miss Bessie Etter was appointed to the newly created 
position of superintendent of the Nurses' Training School. The 
need for additional nursing accommodations was met in 1920, 
when a house next to the nurses' home was purchased, remodeled, 
and opened as a dormitory. Two more homes, at 12 and 16 King 
Street, were purchased the same year. 

By 1920, the need for enlarging the hospital had become urgent, 
and a campaign to raise $300,000 for this purpose was begun. The 
goal was oversubscribed by more than $300,000. A Wallingford 
man, Edwin H. Brown, was made an incorporator in recognition 
of Wallingford's contribution, and Wallingford has had a voice 
in the hospital's direction since that time. 

The new building was completed and occupied in 1924. 

By 1929, the hospital had again outgrown its accommodations 
for nurses. Clarence P. Bradley saved the situation with a gift of 
$150,000 for a new nurses' home which was constructed in 1929 
and named after the donor who had made it possible. 

The tremendous growth of the Meriden Hospital was reflected 
in its financial statement for the last fiscal year, ending September 
30, 1955, which showed a net operating revenue of $1,388,727.98. 
Operating expenses were $1,429,441.50. The operating loss of 
$40,713.52 was offset by other income of $72,233.24, including 
state and municipal grants, the Community Fund, endowment 
funds, and miscellaneous. The hospital has nearly 400 full and 

240 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

part-time employees, exclusive of students in the Nurses' Training 
School. 

Warren L. Mottram, a Wallingford man, is president of the 
Meriden Hospital. The medical board is headed by Dr. Michael 
J. Conroy. Dr. David J. Cohen is director of medicine; Dr. Francis 
GiurTrida, director of surgery; Dr. Hoyt C. Taylor, director of 
obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Richard Breck and Dr. Donald 
Badner are members at large. Howard F. Saviteer has been 
business administrator since 1945. 

Practically all of the physicians in Meriden and many in 
Wallingford have staff appointments, and use the hospital's 
facilities. 

World War II Veterans' Memorial Hospital 

Even before World War II had ended, the question of a suitable 
memorial to those who had given their lives had been raised here, 
and discussion developed on all sides. 

Mayor Francis R. Danaher took the first step toward the 
solution of the many problems in connection with this subject 
when he appointed on March 13, 1946 a committee to recommend 
what he called a "living memorial." William H. Rybeck, a lieu- 
tenant colonel in the U. S. Army during the second World War 
was named to head this committee, which consisted of represen- 
tatives of 12 veterans' organizations and a 47-man citizens' group. 
A poll of this committee endorsed the "living memorial" idea, but 
there were many proposals as to the form which it should take. 

In July 1946, it was decided to take a poll of the public to 
obtain guidance. A planning and survey committee, a finance 
committee, and a publicity committee were also set up. 

Of all the proposals which had been submitted, the proposal 
to erect a Memorial Hospital gained the strongest support. 

After months of exhaustive study, the committee voted 42 to 6 
in favor of a Memorial Hospital. Incorporated in the plan pro- 
posed was a Memorial Chapel, in which would be placed, eventu- 
ally, photographs of the 147 Meriden men who lost their lives in 
the conflict; the photos to be as nearly alike in format as possible. 

The original plan was to build a small 100-bed hospital, but 
the plan was revised, reducing the number of beds to 50, with 
the idea that the grounds selected as a site should be large enough 
to permit expansion. 

241 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

The United Veterans' Council and the allied group of citizens 
which had been incorporated in December 1951 as the Memorial 
Hospital Association proceeded carefully, guided by advice from 
many sources. A site was chosen on Paddock Avenue, which was 
purchased by the association and donated to the City of Meriden. 
Douglas Orr, well-known architect, a native of Meriden, drew 
the plans. A campaign for pledges was started, and approximately 
a quarter of the city's population agreed to contribute. 

Through the association, a bill was presented to the state legis- 
lature, authorizing the City of Meriden to build and operate the 
hospital, and to appropriate $600,000 for that purpose, the money 
to be provided through a bond issue. This special act was passed 
May 15, 1951, subject to approval in a city-wide referendum. The 
voters of Meriden endorsed the project in the referendum of 
June 26, 1951. Ground for the hospital was broken in November 
1952. 

Movable equipment to the value of $74,000 was to be supplied 
by the association. An amendment to the original act later 
authorized the purchase of movable equipment from the balance 
of the $600,000 avails of the bond issue after payment for the 
hospital's construction. 

The system set up for the hospital's government was that it 
be managed by a board of trustees appointed by the Court of 
Common Council. The five-member board was to serve for five 
years, and the terms of members were staggered to create a 
vacancy for a new chairman each year. The board was to serve 
as a building committee during construction, with the help of the 
city engineer, the building inspector, and two members of the 
council, one from each major political party. 

An advisory committee of not more than 30 was a feature of 
the act's provisions, but, after its appointment, members com- 
plained that it was not called into consultation by the trustees 
for many months. 

Recently, as a result of these complaints, the advisory com- 
mittee was activated, and provided with a constitution and 
by-laws as a separate body. It has the power to advise without 
being summoned, and to submit to the council, at the close of 
each calendar year, a report explaining its activities and the 
advice offered. The term of each member of this board was set 
at three years, with the terms of 10 members expiring each year, 

242 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

to be replaced by 10 others. 

The equipment fund has been swelled by the proceeds of 
minstrel shows and other events. The Association on June 26, 
1951 organized the Ladies Auxiliary, which was later incorporated 
as the official Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Members of the 
Auxiliary have made large contributions through the proceeds of 
card parties and entertainments held under their auspices. 

More than 2,000 patients at the time of this writing had received 
treatment at the Memorial Hospital, since it was dedicated July 
18, 1954, and many paid tributes to the quality of surgical, 
medical, and nursing care rendered by it. Dr. David P. Smith, first 
president of the Memorial Hospital Association, is chief of staff. 

The Memorial Chapel idea was carried out as planned, and the 
photographs of the Meriden men who died in World War II 
confront all those who enter the hospital. As a "living memorial" 
the hospital is representative of the spirit of the community which 
it serves. 

The Bradley Home 

The Bradley Home for the Aged, 320 Colony Street, was made 
possible through a bequest in the will of the late Clarence P. 
Bradley, who died in 1935. He left his entire property on Colony 
Street, where his own residence was located, as a site for the 
home, and set up funds for its establishment and maintenance. 
In his will, he expressed the wish that the dwelling be revamped 
as a permanent home for "aged and indigent men and women 
inhabitants of this state, preferably those belonging to Meriden." 

The home was chartered by the state in March 1936, and was 
opened for residents the following month. The board of trustees 
later acquired land for a new quadrangle by purchasing for 
$425,000 the Wilcox property just to the north. On it stood the 
home built by Horace C. Wilcox and occupied for years by his 
grandson, Roy C. Wilcox. 

New buildings were erected to house 80 residents. The cost 
was defrayed entirely from the funds of the Bradley estate. 

Acceptance of applicants is based on need, and also on the 
ability of the individual to adjust to the living conditions at the 
home, which have been made as pleasant as possible, with a 
minimum of regulations. 

243 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

The home itself, and the grounds which surround it, are 
exceptionally beautiful. 

Howard E. Houston, later elected mayor, came from the New 
York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor to 
become the first superintendent of the Bradley Home. 

During Air. Houston's military service in World War II, Mrs. 
Wilma ML Frost was placed in charge until his return. Mr. 
Houston returned to the position after his discharge from the 
service, and continued to function during his terms as mayor. 
Gov. John D. Lodge appointed him State Welfare Commissioner, 
but in December 1955 he resigned the commissionership and the 
superintendency of the Bradley Home to take an appointment 
as deputy director of the U. S. Foreign Operations Administration 
mission to India. 

The present director of the Bradley Home is Dr. Cole B. 
Gibson, who took the position after his retirement as superinten- 
dent of Undercliff Sanatorium. 

Undercliff Hospital 

Undercliff Hospital, until recently known as Undercliff Sana- 
torium, is a state institution, nestled protectively under the 
"hanging hills." The movement which led to its creation began 
here in 1907, instituted by members of the Central Labor Union, 
who were concerned about the increasing number of cases of 
tuberculosis among factory workers. A campaign to raise funds 
for a sanatorium was started. A tag day and three-day carnival 
in City Park in 1909 brought in some of the money needed — 
enough to make a start. The old almshouse off Capitol Avenue 
was used at first. In 1910, the institution was turned over to the 
jurisdiction of the State of Connecticut. 

For the next ten years, Undercliff cared mainly for tubercular 
children, with advanced methods of treatment which won national 
recognition. Meanwhile, new buildings were constructed, and the 
institution was expanded in many ways. An infirmary was built 
in 1930. During the period of WPA projects, further additions 
were made, including a new administration building, hospital, 
school building, and nurses' quarters. The capacity of Undercliff 
was raised considerably at that time. Again the institution was 
caring mainly for adult patients. 

From 1917 to 1954, Dr. Cole B. Gibson was superintendent 

244 




Meriden Y.M.C.A. 




Meriden Y.W.CA. 




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Meriden Boys' Club 
(Under construction in 1956) 




Meriden Girls' Club 
(The former O. H. Piatt residence. Addition projected.) 




Administration Building, UnderclifT Hospital 




American Legion Home, Legion Park, South Meriden 




Municipal Parking Yard, Church Street 




Pratt Street, from East Main Street 





West Main Street 




Colony Street at the Christmas Season 




President Harry S. Truman speaks in Crown Street Square — 1952 



RECORD-Souftmi 




The Record-Journal Plant 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

and medical director. Under his administration, Undercliff grew 
from a small cluster of wooden buildings to its present large 
proportions. Pioneer studies in the causes and treatment of tuber- 
culosis were made during these years. 

In 1954, a new chapter in Undercliff history began. The 
institution became the Undercliff Hospital unit of the Commission 
on the Care and Treatment of the Chronically 111, Aged and 
Infirm. Dr. Paul Mason de la Vergne, who had been associated 
with Dr. Gibson for many years, was appointed as the new 
superintendent to succeed him upon his retirement. 

Approximately 200 patients are currently receiving the benefits 
of the institution. 

Connecticut School for Boys 

The Connecticut School for Boys is today an example of the 
many changes in theory and practice in the treatment of juvenile 
delinquency. The methods which prevailed when it was founded 
more than 100 years ago have completely disappeared. 

The school was started in 1850 at a time when there were only 
three or four similar institutions in the entire country. The 
General Assembly in 1851 provided $10,000 for the purchase of 
a site in Meriden. The land on Colony Street just south of the 
present Bradley Home property, was purchased, and the first 
building was erected. Many local citizens contributed. 

The first boys were admitted in 1854. They were housed in 
five cottages, each holding 50 boys. George E. Howe was the first 
director. The boys were kept under rigid supervision and treated 
as prisoners, with harsh discipline administered for infractions 
of the rules. 

Manual training was introduced in 1900, when Charles Merriam 
Williams, a superintendent with more liberal theories, was at the 
head of the school. The boys wore gray pantaloons and blue 
jackets turned out in the school's workshops. 

In 1921, the legislature appropriated $530,000 for improvements 
at the school. This was the beginning of a new system of housing 
in cottages with a more homelike atmosphere than that provided 
previously. 

However, charges of cruelty and incompetence were leveled 
against the school in 1930, while Edward Boyd was director. 
After his forced resignation, Roy L. McLaughlin, the present 

245 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

director was appointed to the position, and a new regime began. 

One of the first changes under Mr. McLaughlin was in the 
form of clothing worn by the boys. No longer were they forced 
to wear a garb which made them conspicuous. 

The extensive building program instituted a little later provided 
the school with an entirely new campus, which was attractively 
landscaped. 

New educational courses were instituted. Academic and 
vocational training were combined to prepare the boys to become 
self-supporting and good citizens after leaving the school. Creative 
expression was encouraged. The print shop began to publish a 
school paper, the Hilltop Hubbub, which has been continued. 

Today, the methods employed at the Connecticut School for 
Boys have made it a model widely imitated throughout the 
country. And most of its graduates have made good use of their 
training to build successful, law-abiding careers. 

Curtis Memorial Library 

As early as 1796, Meriden had a small subscription library with a 
total of 153 volumes, but it was discontinued in 1809, and there 
are no records to indicate the extent of its growth by that time. 
Several other attempts to start a public library during the nine- 
teenth century failed. The first successful effort occurred in 
1898, when the Meriden Public Library was established with 
funds raised by the Thursday Morning Club, an organization of 
Meriden women which is still in existence. They sponsored a 
series of successful lectures to make the project possible. On 
January 30, 1899, they opened a reading room in a house on the 
site of the Masonic Temple. 

In 1900, Mrs. Augusta Munson Curtis, widow of George R. 
Curtis, offered to spend $5,000 on the site for a public library 
and to contribute $25,000 toward the erection of the building 
if the city would agree to appropriate $3,000 annually for main- 
tenance. A special town meeting on March 12, 190! accepted the 
offer, and the Curtis Memorial Library was erected at the location 
chosen, at the corner of East Main and Pleasant Streets at a cost 
of approximately $750,000 for building, site, and equipment. The 
design by Richard Williams, New Haven architect, is classical, 
in the Greek tradition. 

Miss Corinne A. Deshon was the first librarian. She had been 

246 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

in charge of the previous Meriden Public Library, and was well 
equipped for the position which she filled until her retirement 
in 1927, when she was succeeded by Miss Martha Bartlett. Miss 
Bartlett served for 18 years, retiring in 1946. She was succeeded 
by Ransom L. Richardson, who undertook a program of expan- 
sion, the effects of which are still visible. James L. Hillard 
followed Mr. Richardson, and served until his acceptance of a 
position with the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. Miss 
Marion Cook is now in charge of the library's services. 

The need for a branch library on the west side was stressed as 
early as 1930 by Miss Bartlett, but there were many delays before 
branch facilities were finally opened in September 1945 in the 
Professional Building at West Main and Maple Streets. Since its 
opening, this branch has more than doubled its original circulation 
of about 30,000 books annually. The library also maintains eight 
stations in the schools. 

The use of the library has shown continuous gains in almost 
every category of circulated materials. In the city's annual report, 
published last year, the total circulation of volumes lent for home 
use was 231,035, and, for the whole year of 1955, this figure was 
materially increased. The library maintains a reference service, 
and is microfilming its newspaper files. A collection of musical 
recordings and a wide selection of art books are among the 
materials available in its departments. Its collection of children's 
books is among its more popular features. Large numbers of 
school children make use of its facilities. 

The Curtis Home 

The Curtis Home on Crown Street was founded by the late 
Lemuel J. Curtis, who provided the funds for its construction. 
It was erected in conjunction with the work of St. Andrew's 
Episcopal Church. 

The first building was dedicated in 1884 as a home for children. 
Mr. Curtis died in 1888, leaving funds for the maintenance of the 
institution, and also making it possible to erect another building 
for the care of elderly women. The second structure was built 
in 1894. 

In 1905 an addition was constructed as a facility for manual 
training for the boys in the home. The same building was later 

247 



PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 

converted into a gymnasium. In 1950, it became a 2 5 -bed infirmary 
for the women residents. 

Thirty children and 36 women now live at the Curtis Home. 
A homelike atmosphere prevails at the institution, which is under 
the supervision of Miss Helen Stevens. 



248 



CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE 



Organizations 



The scope of this volume does not permit a resume of all Meriden 
organizations. There are scores of clubs, fraternities, church 
groups and other associations in addition to those mentioned in 
this chapter. 

The histories presented here constitute only a limited selection, 
dictated largely by the arbitrary boundary of allotted space. 

Meriden Community Fund 

The Meriden Community Fund was organized in 1929 by a 
group of public spirited citizens in recognition of the growing 
problem created by the multiplicity of fund-raising drives for 
local welfare organizations. The value of most of these causes 
was not questioned, but some of them were failing to obtain the 
support they deserved because appeals came too frequently. It 
was also becoming more and more difficult to round up volunteer 
canvassers, because many persons were being asked again and 
again during the same year to undertake this kind of work. The 
Community Fund, by combining the major appeals, was able to 
perform the same tasks much more effectively and, in addition, 
to furnish assurance to the public that its contributions would be 
carefully and openly accounted for and put to the best possible 
uses. 

Since the year of its establishment, the Community Fund has 
raised $3,909,078 in its annual campaigns. The amount raised in 
the 1956 campaign was $181,450 for the 15 agency members, 
including the Boy Scouts, Boys' Club, Diocesan Bureau of Social 
Service, Family Service Association, Girl Scouts, Girls' Club, 
Meriden Hospital, Public Health and Visiting Nurse Association, 
"News from Home," Salvation Army, St. Rose Community 
Center, Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., Meriden Community Fund and 
Council, U. S. O. 

The active management of the Community Fund is controlled 
by its executive and budget committees which function at regular 
meetings and special meetings called throughout the year. The 

249 



ORGANIZATIONS 

office is in charge of a salaried director, who is usually present 
to furnish detailed information at committee meetings. The 
budget committee scrutinizes thoroughly the budgets submitted 
by each agency member, and the campaign goal is arrived at after 
all budgets have been surveyed and approved. 

On the board of directors, each agency in the Fund is 
represented, and there are also 25 members at large. The annual 
meeting is held in April, when officers are elected, together with 
six new board members to replace those whose terms are expiring. 

Approximately 135 citizens make up advisory groups which 
are called into consultation during the year. 

The Meriden Y.M.C.A. 

The Meriden Y.M.C.A. dates back to 1866, but its organization 
was probably influenced by the presence of the Meriden Young 
Men's Institute established in 1853. The Institute's outstanding 
accomplishment was to arrange for the visit of Henry Ward 
Beecher, famous orator, to deliver an address at the dedication 
of the Town Hall. 

The first meetings of the Y.M.C.A. were held in the rooms of 
a local church, where lecture programs were presented. During 
the first year, $7,000 was raised to make it possible to obtain 
permanent quarters in the building which stood where Boynton's 
Inc. is now located. In 1872, a paid secretary was engaged to 
administer the program. 

As the result of a compaign in 1875, the association obtained 
more than $20,000 to erect a new building on the same site as 
the quarters which it had been occupying. Contributors were 
assured that for 50 years, dating from the Y's establishment, it 
would be used only for Y.M.C.A. purposes. 

In 1885 the first general secretary was hired. The position was 
filled by the janitor who had cared for the rooms. In the same 
year, a telephone was installed. Later, facilities for baths were 
provided, although the board feared they might overflow, causing 
damage to the building. In 1895, the first petition was presented 
for bowling alleys. The Lincoln Street tennis courts were added 
to the association's facilities in 1901. 

A proposal to erect a new building was brought before the 
directors in 1907, but 14 years were to elapse before this goal 
was reached. The necessary funds were finally raised in 1921, and 

250 



ORGANIZATIONS 

the present building on West Main Street was erected, providing 
facilities for all Y.IVLCA. activities, and a dormitory which has 
been fully occupied almost from the time when it was opened. 
But much rearrangement has been necessary, and many new 
facilities have been added up to the present. Further expansion 
is being planned for the near future. The association's membership 
has increased from year to year, and its services to members have 
increased correspondingly, while its work in education and the 
direction of youth activities has grown also. 

The war, with its attendant gasoline shortage, saw the passing 
of the Y Community Forum, which, for 11 years, had attracted 
an average of 1,000 persons for each series. It also saw the 
establishment of a teen-age project which has enrolled each year 
an average of 1,000 young persons for 40 Saturday nights, with 
an average attendance of 300 at each meeting of the Co-Ed Night 
Club. 

Since 1941, the association has invested $73,920 in capital 
improvements. A city- wide campaign for complete modernization 
will be conducted in April 1957. 

The Meriden Y.W.C.A. 

The Meriden Y.W.C.A. had its origin in the Young Woman's 
League formed here in 1 890 under the sponsorship of the 
Women's Christian Temperance Union. In March 1893, the 
society was reorganized as the Y.W.C.A., with Mrs. C. H. Youngs 
as president. 

At first the Y.W.C.A. had its headquarters in BushnelPs Block, 
77 West Main Street. Classes in practical nursing, gymnastics, 
bookkeeping, German, grammar, and writing were formed, and 
an employment bureau was opened. In 1894, larger quarters were 
occupied in the same building. The Y.W.C.A. became affiliated 
with the national organization about that time. 

The day nursery was started in 1895. In 1897, a vacation house 
was opened on West Peak, which was occupied during the 
summers for a long term of years. 

The present buildings on Crown Street were erected and 
dedicated in 1908, and the day nursery was continued at that 
location. In 1940, the nursery was discontinued. Occupancy of 
the dormitory has continued high. 

Many clubs with special purposes, formed within the organi- 

251 



ORGANIZATIONS 

zation, fit into the Y.W.C.A.'s extensive program for girls and 
women. 

Meriden Boys' Club 

The Meriden Boys' Club, affiliated with the national organization 
of Boys' Clubs, was founded in 1888. From the beginning, it has 
provided a place for the recreational activities of teen-age boys, 
with facilities for sports and games and other varied interests. 
Its headquarters at 9 Veteran Street have long been recognized 
as inadequate, and the movement to erect a new club began as far 
back as the 1930's. Plans matured in 1955, and a campaign was 
undertaken to raise a building fund of $250,000. This goal was 
oversubscribed to the extent of about $40,000. Construction of 
the new building, on a site at the corner of Colony and Washing- 
ton Streets, opposite the Meriden Post Office, is now well 
advanced. The club has a membership of more than 1,000 boys. 
Joseph F. Coffey is the director. 

Meriden Girls' Club 

The Meriden Girls' Club was launched in October 1919, spon- 
sored by the Meriden Woman's Club, and intended originally 
to promote worthwhile activities among older girls. Later, girls 
in the younger age brackets became eligible as members. For 
some years, the club occupied rented quarters on Colony Street. 
In 1937, it moved into the Italian- American Club building on 
Grove Street. In 1951, the club fell heir to the Piatt home on 
Lincoln Street, residence of the late Senator Orville Piatt, and 
occupied for many years by his widow. The club moved into 
these new quarters in 1953, but soon found that the space was 
inadequate for its expanded activities. In February 1956, a 
campaign was launched to raise a building fund of $75,000, which 
will permit the construction of a well-designed addition. Miss 
Betty Rice is executive director of the club. 

Boy Scouts 

The Boy Scout movement in Meriden began after the national 
movement started in 1910. Its 46th anniversary was celebrated in 
February 1956. The Central Connecticut Council, Boy Scouts of 
America, now has a membership of more than 2,000 boys and 
adults in the area of its jurisdiction, which includes Meriden, 

252 



ORGANIZATIONS 

Wallingford, and Southington. It is the sixth oldest council in 
Connecticut. John G. Nagel was the first president. The first 
professional executive director was E. D. Curtis, in 1916-17, 
followed by John D. Roberts. 1917-1939. Since that time, Harry 
S. Hanson has served as executive director. 

Girl Scouts 

The Meriden Girl Scout Council was formed 26 years ago, and 
affiliated with the national organization which celebrated its 44th 
anniversary in March this year. 

The council is divided into four districts, with from 15 to 30 
troops in each district, each under a chairman assisted by troop 
organizers and consultants. 

The first troop was organized in Meriden in 1918. There were 
13 troops when the council was incorporated in 1929. Today 
there are 78 troops with 1,665 girl and adult members, 200 more 
than last year. Mrs. Louis Desrochers is president. Fourteen new 
troops, Brownie, intermediate and senior, have come into existence 
since last year. They are sponsored by churches and schools, 
some schools having two or three units. 

Camp Glen Echo off Paddock Avenue is sponsored by the 
council. It is a summer day-camp conducted for six weeks each 
season. 

Mrs. Catherine F. McNulty is executive director. The first 
director was Mrs. Emily Greely. 

Public Health and Visiting Nurse Association 

The Meriden Public Health and Visiting Nurse Association is 
the outgrowth of the Working Men's Free Bed Fund, which was 
organized here in 1907 for tuberculosis control. In 1908, it 
became the Meriden Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and obtained 
support through five-cent weekly deductions from the pay of 
factory employees willing to subscribe. In 1910, the name was 
changed to the Meriden Tuberculosis Relief Association, and the 
first visiting nurse was employed. Distribution of Christmas seals 
also began at that time. A group from the association helped in 
remodeling the old town farm building, a project which was the 
genesis of Undercliff Sanatorium. In 1922, the association com- 
bined with the Visiting Nurses to form the present organization. 
Miss Elizabeth Bigelow was the first director, serving until her 

253 



ORGANIZATIONS 

death in 1941, when Miss Jessie Halbert, the present director, was 
appointed to the position. 

Salvation Army 

The Salvation Army was first organized in Meriden in 1911, 
when the Citadel was built on Pratt Street. In 1940, in the will 
of Mrs. James A. Curtis, funds were provided for the construction 
of an addition which was dedicated in 1941. The front section 
was remodeled, and a new wing was erected at the back, with a 
gymnasium and basketball court on the second floor, showers and 
lockers. In charge in 1956 is Capt. John J. Phelan. 

Meriden Chamber of Commerce 

The Meriden Chamber of Commerce is the outgrowth of the 
Meriden Board of Trade, which was organized in May 1896, and 
incorporated in 1902. In 1908, it was reincorporated and united 
with the Meriden Business Men's Association. It continued under 
that name until 1915, when the name changed to the Meriden 
Chamber of Commerce, Inc. First president of the Business Men's 
Association was Frank E. Sands. First secretary, in 1908, was 
Albert A. May. 

In 1915, offices were established in the Hall & Lewis Building, 
now the Cherniack Building, and remained there for many years. 
H. N. Clark became executive secretary in 1917. Charles A. 
Newton became executive secretary in 1932, and has held that 
office up to the present, with the exception of a period during 
World War II, when Hollis D. Immick served as temporary 
secretary while Mr. Newton was with the War Production Board 
in New Haven. 

The Chamber of Commerce has helped to promote the best 
business and industrial interests of Meriden from the beginning, 
and has succeeded in bringing many new industries here. Affili- 
ated with it is the Merchant's Bureau, which has its own officers. 

Bernard D. Kasack is president of the Chamber of Commerce 
and E. W. Graffam is chairman of the Merchant's Bureau. 

Junior Chamber of Commerce 

Organized after World War II to encourage civic enterprise 
and promote community betterment, the Junior Chamber of 
Commerce is an active group of business and professional men in 

254 



ORGANIZATIONS 

the younger age brackets. It has sponsored annual products shows, 
collected food and clothing for flood victims, and assisted in 
numerous campaigns. Each year it honors the "Young Man of the 
Year" selected through widely distributed ballots. Another of 
its goals is to foster safe driving by teen-agers. 

The Manufacturers' Association 

The Manufacturers' Association of Meriden was organized in 
June 1919 and incorporated in 1920 to consider questions of 
manufacturing interest and encourage cooperation and industrial 
progress. The principal Wallingford manufacturers affiliated with 
the group, and the association serves both communities, a fact 
which was recognized by the addition of Wallingford to the name. 
William J. Wilcox is executive secretary, and offices are main- 
tained at 43 Vi Colony Street. 

The Employers' Association, an even older organization, kept 
a separate identity until 1942, when the two organizations were 
merged. 

The late Clifford R. Gardinor was the first president of the 
Manufacturers' Association, serving in 1920, 1921 and 1922. The 
late Charles G. Phelps of Wallingford was the first secretary, and 
held the position until his death in 1925. 

Mr. Wilcox, the present secretary, assumed his duties in 1926. 

The association has taken part in many worth-while civic 
projects for the benefit of Meriden and Wallingford, and was 
active in the promotion of building in periods of housing shortage. 

In addition to Mr. Gardinor, the following have served as 
president: W. H. Walther, Charles H. Cuno, William F. Handel, 
Glover Snow, Parker B. Allen, Milton L. Gearing, Albert W. 
Savage, Clifford I. Packer, W. Oden Hughart, John R. Sexton, 
Robert W. Clark, William H. Grinold, Philip B. Watson, Harry 
T. Burgess, and Norman J. Stringer. Mr. Stringer holds the office 
at present. 

United Veterans' Council 

A movement for an organization to include all groups of Meriden 
war veterans was started in 1945, when 10 posts and chapters 
gathered at the invitation of Charles L. Upham Camp, Sons of 
Union Veterans, to discuss the feasibility of the plan. From this 
beginning, the United Veterans' Council resulted, and has been 

255 



ORGANIZATIONS 

active for the last 10 years. It was largely instrumental in the 
successful campaign for the World War II Veterans' Memorial 
Hospital, and has also loaned its influence to other local efforts 
on the behalf of veterans. 

Every veterans' organization in Meriden is included in its 
membership, which embraces the following: 

Sons of Union Veterans, Charles L. Upham Camp No. 7; 
United Spanish War Veterans, Charles B. Bowen Camp; Veterans 
of Foreign Wars, La Croix Murdock Post No. 585; Yankee 
Division Veterans Association, Feegel-Tyler Chapter; the 
American Legion, Meriden Post No. 45; Jewish War Veterans, 
Post No. 92; Italian-iVmerican World War Veterans, D'Amico 
Post No. 7; Marine Corps League, Silver City Detachment; 
Adilitary Order of the Purple Heart, Meriden Chapter; Disabled 
American Veterans, Chapter 6; Polish American Veterans, Meri- 
den Post; Catholic War Veterans, A4ount Carmel Post No. 1053; 
Catholic War Veterans, St. Joseph Post No. 1106; Catholic War 
Veterans, St. Rose Post No. 1116; Catholic War Veterans, St. 
Laurent Post No. 1135; Catholic War Veterans, St. Mary Post No. 
1136. 

Also the following women's auxiliaries: 

Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Italian-American 
War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Disabled American 
Veterans, Polish American Veterans, Gold Star Association. 

American Legion, Meriden Post 45 

Post 45, American Legion, was founded September 18, 1919, 
two days after Congress granted a charter to the national Legion 
organization. For several years, it occupied the Coe home on 
East Main Street, and remained at that location until 1923, when 
the property was sold to become the site of the Masonic Temple. 
The W. G. Warnock property at 212 Colony Street was pur- 
chased, and continued to serve as the post's headquarters until 
1946, when the Legionnaires decided that it would be inadvisable 
to remodel it, and it was sold to provide new headquarters for the 
Meriden Public Health and Visiting Nurse Association. Tem- 
porarily, the Legion established quarters in the Winthrop Hotel 
while plans for a new home were being discussed. 

Several proposals were considered and rejected before Mar- 
chand C. Blatchley, post commander at the time, announced on 

256 



ORGANIZATIONS 

July 19, 1950 the signing of contracts for a Legion Home on 
property acquired at the former site of Hanover Park in South 
Meriden which was rechristened Legion Park. The building was 
designed by Lorenzo Hamilton, architect, and was planned to 
furnish modern accommodations for all Legion activities. 

The new home in Legion Park was dedicated May 20, 1951 
with appropriate ceremonies. Since then, it has been the scene 
of many events of the active Legion program. It is used also by 
the Legion Auxiliary, which was founded about a year after the 
post was established. 

Sons of the American Revolution 

Captain John Couch Branch No. 2, Connecticut Society, Sons of 
the American Revolution, held its first meeting in the Winthrop 
Hotel on Feb. 28, 1893. Present were H. Wales Lines, E. J. Doo- 
little, Arthur Proudman, W. W. Lee, Charles Rockwell, S. S. 
Peck, M. F. Griswold, M. B. Schenck, LeGrand Bevins, George 
C. Merriman, George E. Savage, and George N. Bowers. A com- 
mittee of five was named to draw up a constitution and by-laws 
and to apply to the Connecticut Society for a charter, which 
was soon granted. 

Service Clubs 

Seven active service organizations, all with national affiliations, 
have contributed much to Meriden's civic welfare in the years 
since the first service club was organized here. 

The Meriden Rotary Club, chartered April 1, 1921, was the 
first service club in the city. 

The Meriden Lions Club was organized in 1923, and chartered 
a year later. 

The Meriden Exchange Club was also organized in 1923, and 
received its charter March 25, 1924. 

The Meriden Kiwanis Club was established here in 1930. 

These were the pioneer service clubs for men. Service clubs 
for women began nationally as far back as 1919, when Zonta 
International was formed. The Meriden Zonta Club was organized 
in 1935. 

Soroptimist International of Meriden was chartered in 1949. 

The Unison Club is another service organization. It was 
founded here in 1953. 

257 



organizations 
Women's Organizations 

Ruth Hart Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was 
the sixth chapter in Connecticut, and was organized in 1893. Mrs. 
Levi E. Coe was its first president. It has the perpetual care of 
Meeting House Hill Burying Ground. 

Susan Carrington Clarke Chapter, D. A. R., was organized in 
1895. Mrs. Kate Foote Coe was its first regent. 

The Meriden Colony of the National Society of New England 
Women was formed in 1927, a branch of the national society 
which began in 1895. 

The City Mission Society, organized in 1886, through the 
efforts of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, is Meriden's 
oldest women's organization. 

But the Meriden Charity Club also has a long history. It was 
established in 1897 by 12 high school girls, members of a whist 
club, who sought an outlet for their time and energies in charitable 
work, and has been continuously active since that time. 

The Meriden Woman's Club, largest of the women's organiza- 
tions, was organized in 1917. First president was Mrs. William 
Rice Smith, and the charter membership included 325 women. 
The Thursday Morning Club, mentioned elsewhere for its con- 
nection with the foundation of a public library here, helped the 
new club in sponsoring lectures. Since that time, the activities 
of the club have been many and varied in worth-while causes. 

The Meriden Junior Woman's Club started in April 1947, with 
Mrs. Marion Hawkins as its first president. Its membership is 
limited to 250 women in the lower age brackets. 

The Meriden Business and Professional Women's Club, an 
affiliate of a national organization, was chartered in 1953. 

The Home Club 

The Home Club, 128 Colony Street, was located originally in 
the Byxbee Block on Colony Street. In May 1893 it voted to 
erect the present building, which was designed and furnished for 
its own needs. 

In 1946, the club instituted an $80,000 building program, under 
which the building was completely remodeled, and an addition 
measuring 18 by 44 feet was constructed in the rear. The dining 
room was greatly enlarged and the kitchen was nearly trebled 

258 



ORGANIZATIONS 

in size. The bar was relocated. Facilities were provided for 
serving meals to wives and guests of members. Luncheon and 
dinner service is available on week days. 

The club has a membership of more than 300, among which 
many leaders of the business and industrial community are 
represented. 

The Turner Society 

The Turner Society, one of Meriden's oldest organizations, was 
organized in 1866. A young group of German immigrants formed 
it to continue the gymnastic exercises they had practiced in their 
native land. Originally, there were 46 members, but the member- 
ship grew rapidly as similar groups were launched throughout 
New England. In 1868 a house on State Street Extension was 
obtained and remodeled as Turner Hall. Eventually, larger 
quarters were found on Pratt Street, and later on Butler Street. 
During the 80's and 90's and in the early part of this century, 
Turner competitions on a state-wide basis were frequent. A large 
meeting was held here during the Centennial, when hundreds took 
part. In recent years, the organization has concentrated on choral 
singing. The singing groups have won a number of prizes in 
competitions with similar groups throughout the state. 

Meriden Lodge No. 35, B. P. O. E. 

Meriden Lodge No. 35, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, 
received its dispensation on June 19, 1885, and was instituted the 
following week on June 26, in Grand Army hall. The formal 
charter was granted December 12, 1886. There were 27 charter 
members. 

The lodge continued to meet in Grand Army hall until a room 
was fitted up for its purposes in the Cashen building on State 
Street. Later, it moved into quarters in the Wilcox Block, and 
met in Colonial hall for a number of years. The next change in 
location was to a brick addition in the rear of the old Richmond 
home on East Main Street. In 1922, a committee was named to 
start a building fund. 

The present clubhouse, opened in 1928, marked the culmination 
of more than five years of fund-raising activities. It is a substantial 
brick building, conveniently planned for the Elks' purposes, 
handsomely furnished, and completely equipped throughout. 

259 



ORGANIZATIONS 

The order has made many civic contributions during its long 
existence, mainly of a charitable and patriotic nature. It has a 
large and active membership in the community. 

Masonic Lodges 

The members of the Masonic fraternity in Meriden long held 
their meetings in the Palace Block, but sought for years to find 
ways and means of erecting a temple for all branches of the 
organization. A committee of 50 Masons was appointed in 1921 
to take the necessary steps toward this project. In 1923, it sub- 
mitted a petition to the state legislature to authorize the Masonic 
Temple Foundation with a capital stock of $25,000 to be held in 
equal shares by the following Masonic bodies: Meridian Lodge 
No. 77, Center Lodge No. 97, Keystone Chapter No. 27, Hamilton 
Council No. 22, and St. Elmo Commandery, No. 9. The founda- 
tion charter was granted and ratified by all these bodies. 

The incorporators, after receiving this authority, purchased the 
Coe property on East Main Street then occupied by the American 
Legion. A successful campaign for funds followed, and the present 
Masonic Temple, designed by Walter T. Arnold, was erected by 
the H. Wales Lines Company. Mr. Lines, a prominent Mason, had 
been identified with the movement for a temple from the begin- 
ning. Ground for the building was broken on May 4, 1927 by 
Eli C. Birdsey, president emeritus of the Foundation. The temple 
was dedicated November 10, 1928, and has since served as head- 
quarters for all the Masonic bodies in Meriden. On November 
10, 1952, the mortgage on the property was burned by Frank E. 
Kay, who had then served 25 years as president of the Masonic 
Temple Foundation. 

Knights of Columbus 

Silver City Council No. 2, Knights of Columbus, was the second 
council to be instituted in the largest Roman Catholic fraternal 
society in the world. The institution took place on May 16, 1883. 
The Rev. Fr. A. Van Oppen of St. Laurent's Church was the first 
chaplain, and the organization met for a time in the basement of 
the church. Later, it moved into quarters in the Wilcox Block. 

As the organization grew and strengthened, its members became 
determined to possess their own home. This goal was realized 
with the purchase of the dwelling at 377 Broad Street. It was 

260 



ORGANIZATIONS 

remodeled and suitably furnished, and was dedicated with 
appropriate ceremonies on June 12, 1949, when the Rt. Rev. 
Msgr. Joseph M. Griffin, permanent rector of St. Rose Church, 
delivered the dedicatory address. 

Eagles 

The Fraternal Order of Eagles has a commodious clubhouse at 
66 Crown Street. A large addition was erected in 1937, and there 
have been several enlargements since that time, with a complete 
renovation of the interior, and complete facilities for the organi- 
zation's many activities. One of Meriden's older fraternal societies, 
it has a large and active membership. 

Falcons 

Falcon Nest 68 was organized in 1906 by a group of Polish- 
American residents, and is observing its fiftieth anniversary in the 
same year as Meriden's Sesquicentennial. The first president was 
Stanislaus Iwanicki. The Falcon Athletic Association has a club- 
house at 43 Olive Street, built in 1912. Falcon Park, 210 Westfield 
Road, was opened in 1949. It is a large tract, comprising an athletic 
field, with adjacent club building and pavilion. The first buildings 
erected there were burned in February 1951, and have since been 
replaced. 

Moose Club 

The Moose Club maintains headquarters at 138 Colony Street, 
formerly the home of George W. Lyon, which was purchased 
by the local chapter of the Loyal Order of Moose in 1933. 



261 



CHAPTER FORTY 



Meriden Churches 



Broad Street on a Sunday morning presented a goodly spectacle 
as the 19th century reached the half-way mark. The five churches 
which mothered many of the present houses of worship were 
ranged between East Alain and Charles Streets, on what is now 
the Memorial Boulevard. Coaches and carriages filled with 
prominent citizens from all areas of the town congregated in the 
area, and hundreds more of the humbler parishioners made the 
weekly pilgrimage on foot. 

On the corner where it still stands was the Center Congrega- 
tional Church, composed of members who had decided to reorgan- 
ize and continue their worship at this historic spot when the First 
Congregational Church was established in the present downtown 
area. Next to it stood, and still stands, the First Baptist Church. 
Just south of this the xMethodist Society had erected a house of 
worship. Saint Andrew's Parish had just built a new structure 
of Gothic design at the corner of what is now Charles Street. 
To the south of this the newly organized Roman Catholic Church, 
dedicated to St. Rose of Lima, held worship in the building 
formerly used by the Episcopal congregation. 

The First Congregational Church's new building on Colony 
Street was the first to reflect the surge of growth to the west. 
It was used until 1876, when the present building, a block to the 
north of it, was completed. This new edifice cost $175,000 and 
was recognized throughout the state as an outstanding example 
of church architecture. 

Extensive remodeling and redecoration were undertaken in 
1929 in preparation for the church's 200th anniversary. A building 
program to add room for educational and church-sponsored 
community activities and to modernize existing facilities is cur- 
rently being carried on. 

Church records list the names of 2 1 ministers who have served 
the church in its 225 years. Outstanding among them in more 
recent times is that of the Rev. Dr. Albert J. Lord, who ministered 
to the congregation between 1903 and 1938. The present pastor 

262 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

is the Rev. William F. Edge, who began his duties in 1951. 

The Center Congregational Church has continued to carry on 
its program of worship, education, and good works in the lovely 
old building on Broad Street which is widely recognized as typical 
of the best in early 19th century churches. In the 1870's the 
growth of the congregation made necessary a building program 
which extended the building 20 feet to the west, adding a new 
lecture room and parlors. Further improvements were made in 
the 1890's and again in 1916. The Rev. Ray Marcus Miller is the 
present pastor. 

In 1847 the Baptists moved into their new church next to the 
Center Congregational Church building. The house of worship 
of the First Baptist Church is another example of the best in 
post-colonial architecture, and one of which its members are 
justly proud. For many years it maintained the Olive Branch 
Chapel as a mission school and it has been generous in the spiritual 
and financial support which it has provided for its offshoots which 
grew into separate churches as the city expanded. Its pastor is 
the Rev. Fred L. ShifTer. 

Less than 20 years after the completion of its stone church on 
Broad Street, the parishioners of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church 
decided to construct a new building farther to the west to meet 
the growing trend in that direction. Much of the present edifice, 
standing diagonally across from the entrance to the City Hall, was 
built with stone from the razed church. The new building was 
dedicated in 1867 and has served the congregation, with improve- 
ments and modernizations, until the present day. Extensive 
modernization and redecoration were completed in 1953. 

St. Andrew's was served by the Rev. Giles H. Deshon from 
1850 to 1883 and by the Rev. Arthur T. Randall from 1883 to 
1926, a total of 76 years. The Rev. John S. Kromer is the present 
rector. 

Methodism established a permanent station in Meriden in 1847, 
and until 1867 the congregation was housed in the meeting house 
on Broad Street. In that year a large stone church was built on 
the present site at the corner of East Main and Pleasant Streets 
and was in use until it was destroyed by fire in 1941. In 1912 the 
Rogers Memorial Building was erected to house parish activities, 
at a cost of $50,000. 

The early history of the First Methodist Church is marked 

• 

263 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

by more than one instance in which its members showed their 
generosity and gave their support to people of other denomina- 
tions that were struggling to establish themselves. After the 
disastrous fire which wiped out the church and severely damaged 
the memorial building, the congregation of St. Paul's Universalist 
Church across the street showed the same kind of generosity in 
return when they shared their Sunday worship services with the 
homeless Methodists. The new Methodist Church which rose on 
the site of the old was completed in 1949, at an estimated cost 
of $285,000. It is a beautiful edifice of brick and white-painted 
wood, colonial in inspiration, and an outstanding addition to the 
group of public buildings which clusters around this area. 

With the opening of the railroad in 1839 a new contingent of 
A^eriden citizens began to arrive. To minister to their spiritual 
needs St. Rose Church, the mother Roman Catholic parish of 
Meriden, was organized in 1848, with missions in Wallingford, 
Cheshire and Southington attached. Regular services were held 
in the building on Broad Street purchased from the Episcopal 
congregation until 1856, when a church at the present location on 
Center Street was built. Even before removal to the new building, 
the church had begun parochial school classes for its children. 

During the first quarter-century in the new location a new 
parochial school was built, along with a convent and a chapel for 
the Sisters of Mercy who came from County Clare, Ireland, to 
teach in the school. 

Enlargements were made to house the growing membership in 
1868 and again in 1882. In 1883 the parish was the fourth largest 
in the state. The present church edifice was formally consecrated 
in 1926. Another milestone of this period was passed with the 
erection of St. Rose Community Building. 

A program of building and enlargement is currently in progress 
under the direction of the Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph M. 
Griffin, permanent rector of St. Rose Church since 1947. 

Authentic records place the founding of the South Meriden 
Methodist Church in 1851, when meetings were first held in the 
village schoolhouse, and an ecclesiastical society was formed. The 
Methodist Preaching House was built the same year at the cost 
of $1,333, with the ground floor of the building to be rented as 
living quarters for the sake of economy. 

Until 1871 preaching was done on a supply basis by students 

264 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

at Wesleyan. Later a regular supply minister serving several 
parishes officiated. The first resident minister was appointed in 
1884. Currently occupying the pulpit is the Reverend Kenneth 
B. Welliver. Extensive improvements and enlargements over the 
years have enabled the church to carry on community responsi- 
bilities as well as serving as a house of worship. 

Formerly known as St. Paul's Universalist Church, the First 
Universalist Church was formally chartered in 1854. In 1860 a 
small wooden building was erected at the present site on the 
corner of Norwood and East Main Streets to house the growing 
congregation. The society was placed on a permanent basis in 
1862. 

Rapid growth of the congregation during the 1880's resulted in 
the need for a larger church and the present massive edifice was 
dedicated in 1893. The old building was removed to the corner 
of Norwood and Liberty Streets and was used temporarily for 
town and city offices after the Town Hall burned in 1904. 

In the years since the new century began, the church has 
received valuable gifts and bequests from its members which 
have enhanced its beauty and usefulness, and has been renovated 
and modernized. The Rev. William E. Gardner is the present 
minister. 

The Main Street Baptist Church began its ministry in 1860 
when 14 members of the First Baptist Church were granted letters 
of dismissal to start a West Meriden Baptist Church. Its location 
at the corner of Crown and East Main Streets is a reflection of 
the shifting population and growth in the city subsequent to the 
coming of the railroad. Its early years during the Civil War were 
hard, but by 1868 the chapel which had served early worshippers 
was supplanted by the brick building which still stands today and 
which is the oldest church building in the center of the city. 

The present name was assumed when the old name of West 
Meriden went out of ordinary usage. During its history it has 
done outstanding work with young people and has welcomed 
Baptists coming to Meriden from foreign lands. Russian Baptists 
from Meriden and surrounding communities are among the 
members of the congregation today. Present pastor at the church 
is the Rev. William V. Allen. 

St. John's Lutheran Church was founded in 1865, just after the 
end of the Civil War, by citizens of German descent, and its first 

265 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

meeting was held in the courtroom at the Town Hall. The 
Pennsylvania Synod, which had encouraged the Meriden 
Lutherans in their attempts to set up a congregation, sent a pastor 
and in 1867 the first church was built and dedicated. Membership 
increased rapidly and an addition was soon necessary. 

In 1886 a parochial school was opened, which was to continue 
until it was finally closed last year. English services were instituted 
and the parish hall was built and equipped during the 37-year 
pastorate of the Rev. S. F. Glaser, who began his dutes in 1900. 
The Rev. Adolph H. YVismar is the present pastor. 

Another group of German immigrants founded the Liberty 
Street Baptist Church, which was organized in 1874 as the "Ger- 
man Baptist Society.'' Ten years of meetings in private homes had 
preceded the church's formal establishment. A site on the corner 
of Liberty and Twiss Streets was purchased, and the small con- 
gregation erected the building which is still used today. 

Change to the present name occurred after the First World 
War, at which time English was adopted for use in the church's 
wider ministry. During the last 30 years extensive alterations and 
improvements have been made to the church and parsonage. The 
present pastor is the Rev. August Lutz. 

In 1880, St. Laurent's Roman Catholic Church was organized 
to minister to the needs of the many French-Canadian and Ger- 
man Catholics who had worshipped at St. Rose's. The Rev. 
Alphonsus John Henry Van Oppen, who spoke German, French, 
and English, was the first pastor and served for almost 40 years. 
The church building on Camp Street was begun and its basement 
put into use in 1881, and the completed structure was blessed in 
1888. By 1894 a parochial school building, a convent, and the 
rectory had been completed. 

The present pastor, Rev. Edward A. Mathieu, assumed his 
duties in 1945, and is the fourth to have charge of the parish since 
its foundation. Many improvements on the school and the 
convent, and the complete renovation of the exterior of the 
church have been made during his pastorate. 

Trinity Methodist Church was organized in answer to the city's 
downtown and westward growth. Its first meetings in 1885 were 
held in the Y.M.CA. building, then located on Colony Street, 
and it made arrangements to share with the South Meriden 
Methodists the services of their preacher. In 1887 a chapel was 

266 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

completed and opened for worship on West Main Street, just 
east of Butler Street and the minister was put on a full-time basis. 

Growth of the church membership in the ensuing years led to 
the purchase of the present site on West Main Street on the 
corner of Cook Avenue, and the erection of the church building 
which is still in use was completed in 1895. Numerous improve- 
ments and enlargements have been made since. The Rev. Robert 
Stith, pastor, resigned in March of this year. 

All Saints' Episcopal Church on West Main Street is another 
church built to serve the increasing parish to the west. Services 
were first held in this part of town in 1885 by the rector of Saint 
Andrew's, and the number that attended soon outgrew the 
private homes and other quarters in which they met. 

A bequest from the widow of a former rector was the basis 
of the building drive for the new church, and parishioners of 
Saint Andrew's were generous in their support of the new parish. 
The church was built and consecrated in 1893 and has subse- 
quently been enlarged and improved. For many years the rectors 
of All Saints' have also served as priests-in-charge of St. John's 
Episcopal Church in Yalesville. The Rev. Richard Elting is at 
present the rector of All Saints'. 

Next to the Methodist Church on East Main Street, across from 
the City Hall, and one of the cluster of religious edifices in this 
area, Temple B'Nai Abraham's location is an effective reminder 
of the friendship and brotherhood of Meriden's religious institu- 
tions. It was completed in 1952 and is an impressive brick building 
for worship and community service, with a large wing containing 
classrooms where the Hebrew language and traditions are taught. 

The first Hebrew religious society was organized informally in 
1887, 15 years after the first Jewish families came to Meriden. Two 
years later an official charter was obtained and in 1891 the first 
synagogue was erected on Cedar Street. The cornerstone for a 
new and larger place of worship, also on Cedar Street, was laid 
in 1908 and this building served until the erection of the present 
Temple. Rabbi Albert Troy is the present spiritual leader. 

Holy Angels' Church in South Meriden was built in 1887 as a 
mission church to care for the spiritual needs of members of St. 
Rose Parish living in that area. It was made a separate parish in 
1888. 

The Rev. Eugene A. Moriarty has been pastor of Holy Angels' 

267 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

since 1950. His predecessor was the Rev. Walter A. McCrann, 
who served the parish for more than two decades. The church 
has grown in recent years and a chapel in the basement of the 
church and two classrooms in the rectory have been added to 
accommodate the expansion. Extensive new building plans are in a 
formative stage. Plans for the erection of the Roman Catholic 
church in Yalesville have been under the direction of the South 
Meriden parish. 

The Parker African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was 
begun as a missionary service conducted in local homes to care for 
the spiritual needs of Meriden's Negro families in the 1880's. It is 
named for Charles Parker, Meriden's first mayor, who contributed 
generously to the founding and construction of the church on 
Court Street. 

Outstanding in its rolls of pastors is Mrs. Zoe Walters who 
served the church from 1930 to 1945. Membership has reflected 
the number of Negro families in Meriden which for many years 
was very small but which has increased rapidly since 1942. A 
building program to increase the church's beauty and facilities 
for service is being planned. The present pastor is the Rev. George 
C. Battle. 

Founded by newly arrived Swedish immigrants who wanted a 
spiritual home in which their native language was spoken, the 
Park Avenue Baptist Church began its ministry as the Swedish 
Baptist Church. For a time its services were held in a small hall 
on Britannia Street and at the Main Street Baptist Church. The 
present building was completed and dedicated in 1890. 

Since 1923 enlargement of the membership to include people 
of many national backgrounds has caused the use of English in 
all church services. The Park Avenue Church has over the years 
shown special interest and devotion to the fields of foreign service 
and to youth organizations. Under the ministry of the present 
pastor, the Rev. Herbert R. Peterson, who has served since 1932, 
extensive improvements and additions to the church have been 
made. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church was organized by 
a group previously affiliated with St. John's Lutheran Church. 
Immigrants of German descent, they wanted a church where their 
own language was spoken and English services were first intro- 
duced into the church and Bible School in 1910. A church 

268 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

organization was set up in 1889 and the present site on the corner 
of Cook Avenue and Hanover Street was settled on for a church 
location. The First Lutheran Church of Southington sought 
affiliation and the two congregations worshipped as one parish 
until 1914. The Rev. C. Reinhold Tappert served as pastor in the 
early years, from 1889 to 1912. 

On New Year's Eve, 1917, fire destroyed the church com- 
pletely. For several months services were conducted in the parish 
house of St. John's, and later a building on West Main Street 
was rented. Immanuel's parishioners decided to begin their re- 
building program with a parish house, which was completed in 
1920. The main church building was dedicated in 1925. Further 
improvement and expansion was accomplished under the leader- 
ship of Rev. George A. Hagedorn, who came here as pastor in 
1943 and served until his death in December 1955. The Rev. Oscar 
Werner then became supply pastor. 

Meriden residents of Swedish birth formed the religious society 
which became Augustana Lutheran Church. The first meetings 
in 1889 resulted in the formal organization of the Swedish Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Church of Meriden and the purchase in 1891 of 
the present church site on Center Street. Ground was broken for 
the new church in 1895 and the men of the parish did much of 
the work of erecting the building. It served until 1934, when it 
was destroyed by fire. 

Plans for new building began at once. It was finally completed 
in 1939, the congregation worshipping in the basement while 
building and fund-raising went forward. The present program 
of worship and service is carried on under the pastorate of Rev. 
Charles R. Bomgren who began his duties in 1952. 

St. Mary's Parish was founded in 1890 to serve as the spiritual 
home of the German Catholics who had previously worshipped 
at St. Laurent's. A wooden edifice was built on Church Street to 
serve as church, parochial school, and convent and was dedicated 
in 1891. The cornerstone of the present church building was laid 
in 1912 on the site of the first wooden church, which was moved 
to Grove Street to make room for it. Solidly built of brick and 
Gothic in design, it was completed in 1913. 

Since its beginning, St. Mary's has been under the care of four 
regular pastors. One, the Rev. Nicholas F. X. Schneider, served 
for nearly 35 years until his death in 1935. During the last two 

269 



MERIDEN" CHURCHES 

decades important expansion has gone forward. The combined 
school, convent, and parish hall were erected in 1937, and a new 
rectory has been added. The present pastor, the Rev. B. J. Butcher, 
has served since 1949. 

Italian Catholic residents of Meriden, living mainly on the 
west side, were provided with their own place of worship when 
in 1894 a wooden church was erected for their use on Goodwill 
Avenue. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church held its worship services 
in this building until 1935 when plans for badly needed expansion 
matured to produce the present church building on Lewis 
Avenue. It is of yellow brick faced with artificial stone, and is a 
free adaptation of the Lombard style of architecture seen in 
central Italy. 

During the pastorate of the Rev. Walter J. Lyddy, who served 
from 1930 to 1947, the church acquired by purchase from the 
city a parochial school building which has the only complete 
junior high school program among the city's parochial schools. 
The Rev. John J. Kelly is the present pastor. 

By 1895 St. Rose parish had increased in numbers and in area 
so that services for people on the west side of Meriden were being 
held on West Main Street, in a building purchased from the 
Trinity Methodists. In 1901 St. Joseph's parish was formally 
authorized, to serve that part of Meriden west of the railroad. 
The cornerstone for the new church, between Goodwill and 
Lewis Avenues on West Main Street, was laid in 1902, and the 
former chapel was put to use as a parochial school. 

A continuous program of building and improvement has 
marked St. Joseph's progress. The school building was dedicated 
in 1915 and numerous expansions and modernizations have been 
carried on in the church plant since. Four pastors have served in 
the direction of the church since its founding. The Rev. John T. 
Lynch, the first pastor, served until his death in 1924 and Mon- 
signor Jeremiah T. Duggan was pastor from then until 1944. The 
present pastor is the Rev. Thomas B. McGarry. 

St. Stanislaus' Roman Catholic Church, the first Polish Catholic 
church in Connecticut, has grown and prospered in serving 
Meriden families of Polish descent. In 1880 there were only ten 
of these, who began meeting in the basement of St. Rose Church. 
By 1892 they had become a separate congregation, meeting in 

270 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

their own wooden church building which had been completed 
on the corner of Jefferson Street. 

In 1906 the Rev. John L. Ceppa began his duties at St. Stanis- 
laus', duties which were to continue through the growing years 
of the new church and which ended only with his death in 1948. 
The present church building, a brick edifice of Gothic design, 
on an eminence at the corner of Pleasant and Olive Streets, was 
dedicated in 1908. In 1915 the new parochial school building was 
completed. During Father Ceppa's long pastorate, improvements 
and enlargements totaling in cost more than half a million dollars 
were made and paid for. Among them were the convent and St. 
Stanislaus Community Center, which includes an auditorium with 
a gallery accommodating 1,200 persons. Ceppa Field, sold to the 
city in 1941, was used for some years by the church as a play- 
ground and athletic field. Father Ceppa was elevated to the 
Monsignori in 1943. The Rev. Stanislaus F. Nalewajk, who began 
his pastorate in 1948, is at present in charge of the parish. Current 
plans call for a new convent of 30 rooms to be begun this year. 
Further additions to the parochial school are also being planned. 

First Church of Christ Scientist of Meriden was organized in 
1899. Services were held in a succession of rented halls as the 
membership and attendance grew. In 1922 the first meeting was 
held in the present brick edifice at Bradley Park. 

The Meriden church serves the surrounding area including 
Wallingford, Southington, and Cheshire. It maintains a reading 
room, serving members and the public, at 37 East Main Street. 
Mrs. Edith Lipke Ulisney is president of the organization, Mr. 
Howard B. Preble serves as First Reader, and Mrs. Elizabeth 
Sembler is Second Reader. 

In 1911 Sts. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic 
Church was established, under the pastorate of the Very Reverend 
Seraphim Oblivantseff and the church building on Bunker Avenue 
was completed the following year. Under the direction of the 
Very Reverend Alexander Pogrebniak, who officiated at the 
church between 1933 and 1948, a parish and community building 
was erected in 1939. 

July of 1955 saw ground broken for a new church building 
which is currently under construction. Plans call for completion 
and dedication in July of this year. The Rev. John Mason is the 
current pastor. 

271 



MERIDEN CHURCHES 

Meetings which led to the founding of the first Italian Baptist 
Church were begun in the year 1909 when the minister of the 
First Baptist Church held meetings for the people in the Spring- 
dale Avenue area, bringing with him Sunday School teachers from 
his own and from the Main Street Baptist Church. The organiza- 
tion continued meeting in Columbus Hall under the leadership of 
its first pastor, the Rev. Rolando Giuffrida, until the present 
building was completed in 1912. 

Recent improvements to church property include the purchase 
of a parsonage in 1945 and the installation of an organ and chimes 
in 1946 as a war memorial. In 1954 the men of the church redec- 
orated and modernized the kitchen and Sunday School rooms. 
The Rev. Samuel Binch is the present pastor. 

St. Nicholas Parish serves the spiritual needs of the Byzantine 
Rite Catholics of Meriden. The parish was organized in 1914 and 
land was purchased for the church site in the same year. Until 
the church building was completed the members of the parish 
worshipped at special services organized for them at St. Joseph's 
Church. 

Ground was broken for the new church in 1919, and the 
official dedication of the building took place in 1921, during the 
pastorate of Father Vladimer Michalich, the first resident pastor. 
The acquisition of a rectory in 1923 and recent additions and 
improvements to the church property mark its growth. The 
present pastor is the Rev. Peter P. Kichinko, who assumed his 
duties in August, 1955. 

Mt. Hebron Baptist Church is a Negro congregation organized 
in 1945. It is currently meeting in a building at 21 Veteran Street 
but plans are under way for the construction of a regular church 
building. The Rev. F. H. Hicks who has officiated since 1951 is 
the third pastor of the church. 

Jehovah's Witnesses, established for some years at Kingdom 
Hall on Grove Street, have recently completed a substantial brick 
meeting house on Coe Avenue, erected largely through labor 
supplied by members of the congregation. Meriden's Seventh Day 
Adventists hold regular weekly services at 32 Crown Street. The 
Salvation Army offers regular religious services as part of its 
program. 



272 



CHAPTER FORTY-ONE 



Meriden Schools; 1 860-1 956 

Although the history of Meriden schools begins almost with 
the first establishment of a settlement in this area, free public 
schools as we know them did not come into being until 1863. 
During the 18th century the parish acted in its annual meetings 
in the capacity of a town meeting, appointing school committees, 
mapping out school districts, and laying taxes for the support of 
the schools. 

In December of 1773, for example, it was voted "to lay a Rate 
of one farthing upon the pound for ye use of schools and each 
quarter or school to have their proportion of said money 
according to ye list of each quarter." "Ye Society Committee" 
voted in 1776 to "call in ye loan & excise money that belongs to 
ye Parish for the use of schools next March & let it out with good 

security to be paid yearly to said committee for use of 

schools only. . . ." 

The parish was divided into seven school districts in 1791, 
presumably with the purpose of establishing seven separate school- 
houses. These were designated as southeast, east, northeast, 
northwest, west, southwest, and center. As the town grew these 
districts were subdivided until in the mid-nineteenth century a 
total of thirteen was recorded. 

During the years before 1863 Meriden's schools were public 
but they were not free. The responsibility for maintaining and 
financing each school fell to the district in which it was located, 
with little help or supervision from the town. Most of the cost 
seems to have been made up by tuition charged on a per pupil 
basis although the practice of making payment in kind, from 
firewood for the schoolhouse stove to board and lodging for the 
teacher, probably took the place of a cash payment in many 
instances. 

In 1863 the town voted that "all the public schools of the town 
shall be free, and the expense of said schools, heretofore defrayed 
from the avails of rate bills, shall be paid by the town." It was 
also voted to increase the educational tax from three tenths to one 

273 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

and one twentieth of a mill on the dollar so as to cover all the 
expenses of the several districts. 

This modified district plan which was to remain in force for 
nearly a quarter of a century was devised to keep the primary 
responsibility and control of the schools directly in the hands of 
the surrounding neighborhood, reserving certain important 
powers and checks to the town and the state. Under it the voters 
of each district elected each year a committee of one or more men 
to hire teachers and to run the schools. The voters of the town at 
large elected a Board of School Visitors to approve teacher hiring, 
to examine choice of textbooks, and to oversee the condition of 
the schoolhouses. 

The Board of Visitors and the town selectmen acted as a joint 
board of finance for the schools and recommended an appropria- 
tion by the town sufficient to provide each district with funds 
for ordinary running expenses, including teachers' salaries, pay- 
ment for janitors, and fuel. Building and maintenance of the 
schoolhouses was left in the hands of the districts, which set up 
organizations for this purpose staffed with collectors, treasurers, 
and auditors. 

Most of the duties of the Board of Visitors were carried out by 
the man designated Acting Visitor. This official was paid a small 
salary and his duties resembled in a limited area those of a modern 
school superintendent. He visited the schools, made recommenda- 
tions to the district committees, and evaluated the teachers and 
their work. 

Control of the purse-strings was the power which the Acting 
School Visitor and, through him, the Board could invoke to 
improve district school conditions if it was deemed necessary. 
However, withholding town tax money from the districts was a 
drastic move, bound to stir up a storm, and Visitors only used it 
as a last resort, after important recommendations had been 
repeatedly and flagrantly ignored. 

Such a situation arose over the schoolhouse in the Farms 
district, which Visitors repeatedly criticized and condemned over 
a period of years. Finally, in May of 1879, the district committee 
was officially notified that "no further appropriations of school 
money would be made until the accommodations were made 
satisfactory." By September a new building had been erected by 
the citizens of the district and was ready for use. 

274 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

The official Visitors' Report of 1864-65 draws a clear profile 
of the Meriden school system two years after the town assumed 
control of its finances and made schooling free to all children. 
The experiment was hailed by the Visitors as^ an outstanding 
success. Through the new system a fairer distribution of the 
economic burden was attained. Already increased attendance was 
evident. 

Children in Meriden between the ages of four and sixteen 
numbered 1,675, an increase of 137 from the previous year. An 
Academy and four private schools enrolled 250 of these children. 
During the year, 1,128 students were registered in the public 
schools. The winter term served 968 children, with an average 
attendance of 757. In the summer term 948 were enrolled, with 
an average attendance of 751. Three male and 21 female teachers 
were employed. 

Reading was the most-studied subject in the curriculum, with 
a total of 1,112 students applying themselves to it during the two 
sessions. Arithmetic came next, with geography a trailing third. 
Grammar attracted only 111 students. History enrolled 77 
students, while physiology and philosophy enrollment hovered 
around 25. Fifteen students studed Latin, eight wrestled with 
algebra, and one was learning bookkeeping. 

Special praise was given to the "Grand Spelling Match" which 
was held at the Town Hall on two successive evenings. The 
programs of vocal music in several of the schools, daily reading 
of the Bible in class, and "light gymnastics" were also commended. 
It is worth remarking, for the sake of those who consider today's 
youth uniquely ungovernable, that the need for "firm govern- 
ment" is stressed as an ideal not always achieved in the schools 
of the 1860's. "We have found that those schools where teachers 
kept a daily report of deportment appeared the best," observed 
the Visitors. 

In assessing the work of each individual teacher, the report is 
both specific and succinct. Of one unfortunate teacher in the 
intermediate department of the Corner School it is recorded for 
posterity that "though a Normal School scholar and an estimable 
lady, (she) did not seem to restore the interest and bring the 
school up to a desirable standard." 

School finances as managed by the Visitors in the report are a 
model of tidiness and exactitute. Receipts from the state school 

275 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

fund of $1,892.90 plus $399.13 from the Town Deposit fund and 
$4,500.95 from the educational tax add up to $6,792.98. Expendi- 
tures of $5,761.25 for teachers' salaries plus $1,031.73 for fuel and 
other expenses total in expenditures $6,792.98. 

A legacy from even more halcyon days is the mention of the 
Town Deposit fund. This is a memorial of the country's first 
venture into federal aid to education, originating in 1836. In this 
year our thrifty forefathers were faced with an overflow in the 
United States treasury to the amount of 28 million dollars. This 
money Congress lent to the states to be put out at interest. 
Connecticut divided her share, $763,661, among the towns, creat- 
ing the Town Deposit fund, the proceeds of which should be 
"forever" devoted to school purposes. 

The rising population of the state's school children plus a falling 
interest rate have cut this fund so that it is today only a token of 
a frugal past. But back a century ago it was not to be scorned. 
It made a sizable part of the amount of money available for each 
potential pupil of the population which was $4.05. The amount 
actually spent, on a per-pupil registered basis, for a student's 
education in Meriden was $6.00. 

Already, with the free school system only two years old, the 
shape of schools to come casts its shadow over the 1864-65 report. 
The Corner School, in the present downtown area at Church and 
Colony Streets, held one-third of all the pupils in Meriden and 
was growing rapidly. A new building would soon be needed. The 
pressing demand for a central high school was obvious. A move 
to do away with the districts and to give the entire school 
management to the town had been voted down, as it would be 
repeatedly in the next 25 years, but its merits were expounded 
by the Visitors. The report closes on a note still familiar to us in 
1956: "The facilities for education are not commensurate with 
the increase of population in the town." 

During the decade from 1860 to 1870 the population of Meriden 
spurted from 7,426 to 10,571. Increased school attendance in the 
years following 1863 was marked. In that year 57 per cent of the 
children of school age were registered in the schools, and among 
these the attendance averaged 66 per cent. The Connecticut v 
compulsory education law passed in the 1870's required three 
months at least of education each year for all children between 

276 




President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Meriden — October, 1936 

Left to right in car: Meriden Senator Francis T. Maloney, President 

Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt, Gov. Wilbur Cross 




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Meriden Permanent Savings & Loan Association Addition 




Addition to East Main Branch, Connecticut Bank & Trust Company 



meriden schools; 1860-1956 

eight and fourteen. In 1874 attendance of those registered in the 
Meriden schools rose to 8314 per cent. 

The need for new school buildings was immediate and acute. 
Happily, a healthy spirit of rivalry sprang up among the districts, 
which vied with each other in their efforts to build bigger and 
better schools. During the _182Q!s came the first real departure 
from the little-red-schoolhouse concept of buildings and 
teaching. In the Center and Corner districts were built brick 
structures which by dint of counting the half-submerged base- 
ments and the gabled attic rooms could be labeled as containing 
four stories. Two-story buildings were erected in the West and 
Hanover districts. Prattsville built the North Broad Street School, 
an eight-room building described as a "model." 

In 1879-80 the town distributed to the district treasurers for 
school operation $29,647.23. The districts raised $11,877.17 by 
taxes and $2,053 by loans, less than half what the town 
appropriated. 

The early 1880's saw another wave of population increase and 
the erection of more substantial two-story brick buildings to 
meet it. The South Broad Street School and the Samuel Hunting- 
ton School on King Street belong to this period. 

Several private schools flourished in the early and mid 
1800's. The Meriden Academical Association in 1848 sold 
shares for the purchase and reconditioning of the old Baptist 
Church on the northeast corner of Broad Street, and for many 
years it served as a private school and a cultural center. The base- 
ment was rented for business purposes and the hall for traveling 
shows such as "Tom Thumb" and the "Indian Exhibition" in 
1849. It was much in demand for meetings of civic and fraternal 
groups and religious and political meetings. 

The stockholders never received any dividends from their 
investment and frequently collections had to be taken at stock- 
holders' meetings to meet small deficits. The school was run with 
no attempt to make money; the rent charged to the teacher was 
sometimes as high as $25 a quarter. The teacher ran the school 
independently, with what books and equipment he happened to 
own, and made his living by charging tuition. It was closed in 
1869 when the newly built Center School proved more attractive 
to students in the area. 

From 1847 to 1853 the Meriden Institute acquired a high 

277 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

reputation in secondary school training. It was located on the 
north corner of Church Street, fronting Colony Street. The 
building was later bought by the district to house the Corner 
School and the Institute removed to King Street, where it operated 
for some years. 

In 1869 four private elementary schools were reported in 
operation. The popularity of the private schools diminished as 
public school buildings and educational techniques were improved 
during the next two decades. A private school conducted by Mrs. 
A. S. Booth enjoyed continued popularity and in 1894 had 111 
pupils. 

From 1879 till 1903 the German- American School Association 
taught children of German descent in a private institution 
designed to keep them familiar with the German language. The 
school was housed in a building on Liberty Street. Enrollment of 
pupils in the German- American school ran between 60 and 100 
pupils. 

As early as 1864, the second year in which a free town school 
system was in operation, the need for a central high school was 
pointed out by the Visitors. Some secondary school work was 
offered in most of the district schools but with one room and 
one teacher, often poorly trained, serving all the children it 
must have taken an exceptionally gifted and determined student 
to profit by advanced studies. Prior to this time the privately run 
Meriden Institute served the needs of most of Meriden's secondary 
school students. 

The Corner District School, installed in the old Meriden 
Institute building on the corner of Church and Colony Streets, 
had by 1864 an enrollment of 275 pupils and three teachers and 
was the largest in the town. It was reported that this was the only 
thoroughly graded school in the town which "receives children 
in the elements and takes them through the successive stages of 
the common and higher English branches and also enables them 
to avail themselves of the facilities of a classical education." 

This building burned and was replaced in 1868 by a large brick 
structure erected on what is now the municipal parking lot. At 
this time a regular high school department was organized in it 
and by 1880 pupils from other districts were flocking here for v 
their secondary school education. High School Avenue owes its 
name to Meriden's recognition of the Corner School's training. 

278 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

A senior department was also organized at the South Center 
School and served more advanced students from other districts. 

The fight for a Meriden High School was a long and stubborn 
one. Finally in April, 1881, the town skirted the controversial 
title by voting $3,000 with which to start a "Central school" and 
the second floor of the German-American school on Liberty 
Street was leased for classes. Henry S. Pratt was the first principal. 
Applicants had to pass an examination for admission. Of the 73 
applicants, 54 passed and 51 actually entered the school in 
September. 

A special committee of five was elected yearly by the town at 
large to administer the affairs of the High School as long as the 
school district plan remained in force. High school subjects were 
discontinued in all district schools. It is worth noting that Albert 
B. Mather, who began his teaching career in the Corner School 
in 1869 and was largely responsible for the success of its high 
school department, received recognition of his ability when, a few 
years after this, he was appointed Meriden's second superintendent 
of schools. 

In 1882 the name "Meriden High School" was formally 
bestowed on the school, which graduated its first class of 13 
members in 1883. The annual town meeting of that year voted 
to appropriate $50,000 to procure a site and erect a high school 
building. Later the sum was raised to $80,000. The High School 
on the corner of Catlin and Liberty Streets was formally opened 
in 1885 although its interior was not completely finished till 1890 
when the number of students justified the use of all the rooms. 

Meriden citizens took great pride in this first High School. The 
Century of Meriden in 1906 describes it as "This beautiful and 
imposing structure (into which) were incorporated the best ideas 
of beauty and utility of design, and the best materials and 
workmanship." Numerous gifts, large and small, from private 
citizens are recorded. Especially praised was its library which 
was reputed to be one of the best in the state. 

The early 1890's saw another increase in population with more 
school building to meet it. This is the period of the school with 
the central octagonal corridor with rooms opening from it and 
enclosed pupils' wardrobes. The old John Barry School, still in 
use on Columbia Street, is the surviving example of this type. 

In 1896 another major reform, long and stubbornly fought for, 

279 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

was finally accomplished. Since the beginnings of free schools 
on the district system, Visitors and education officials had advo- 
cated the abandonment of the districts and the consolidation of 
all schools under the town.^'Our schools should be equal as well 
as free or we shall lose the benefits of experience and progress," 
was the way the Visitors put it in 1863 j The Visitors made a 
similar recommendation which was again turned down in 1869. 
Echoes of the battle can be detected in the reports of 1875 and 
1877. 

Only five votes provided the margin by which the change was 
finally authorized in 1896. Under the new terms the town assumed 
the property and indebtedness of the districts and became respon- 
sible for all school costs. A committee of twelve men was 
designated to handle all school business and act as School Board, 
with an executive officer with the title of superintendent chosen 
to administer school affairs. 

At the time of consolidation the town school committee 
reported the total value of all school property as being $234,987.42 
though the combined reports of the district committees would 
have put it as $413,548. The indebtedness of the districts assumed 
by the town was $61,010.45, with ready assets listed at $2,488.91. 

Some money had long been received from the state for school 
purposes. The beginning of state aid can be traced to the sale of 
Western Reserve lands in Ohio which yielded Connecticut more 
than two million dollars. This was invested for the benefit of the 
schools and was portioned out on a per capita child basis. In 1871 
it provided $1.20 per scholar. In 1891, with more children in 
the schools, and a lower interest rate, it was 75 cents. Total state 
aid in that year, appropriated from the civil fist, was $1.50 per 
scholar. In 1905 state aid had risen to $2.25 per child. 

Evening school classes are first mentioned in 1872, when 127 
pupils were registered. In 1874-75 the selectmen refused the use 
of rooms for class use and the project was given up. Edward C. 
Wheatley conducted a school for the West district in 1882-83 
without any assistance from the town. 

State aid for evening schools was forthcoming in 1886 and there 
ensued a boom in enrollment. Four hundred ninety-eight pupils 
were registered and the average attendance per night was 249. 
This was more than double the enrollment in Hartford and one 
third again that of New Haven. The town contributed liberally 




MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

in financial support. Men teachers received $2.50 per evening and 
women $1.50. The next year attendance dropped to an average of 
102 per session and the year after that to 45. The school was 
discontinued the following year. 

In 1893 the state passed a law which required towns of 10,000 
or more to maintain evening schools and appropriated $3.00 per 
average pupil membership on a 100-night basis for their support. 
The city had evidently lost its enthusiasm for evening schools 
because a threat of mandamus was required before one was 
opened. It was conducted by Mrs. Adele S. Booth with the help 
of scholars from her own private school, from the High School, 
and even from the Central Grammar School, and in its attempts 
to find quarters it led a roaming existence. Its cost to the city was 
only $300 a year. 

Use of the High School was authorized in 1905 and teachers 
from the day school were appointed. This support was reflected 
in the enrollment which reached 338, representing 29 nationalities. 

In 1912 the evening school was active with an enrollment of 
491. The wave of immigration was reflected by the number of 
recent arrivals eager to learn the language and the ways of their 
new home. One hundred thirteen students were recorded in the 
non-English speaking classes and 131 in the non-English reading 
and writing. Thirty-five of the students had their origins in 
Germany, there were 25 from Sweden, 36 from Russia, 61 from 
Poland, 64 from Italy, and 64 from Austria. 

In 1905 when school superintendent William P. Kelly reviewed 
the history of the schools for the Century of Meriden, the town 
owned 1 8 school buildings, nine of which were of brick. Ten had 
eight rooms or more, one had six rooms, four had four rooms, and 
three one-room schools were still in operation in the outlying 
districts. The total income to be expended for this year was 
$115,980, which included a special appropriation of $10,000 which 
was to furnish free textbooks to the pupils for the first time. 

The first drawing supervisor had been appointed in 1896 and 
singing had been introduced under a supervisor in 1898. The first 
kindergarten was established at the Franklin Street School in 1903. 
Willis J. Prouty has been principal of the High School, where 
he had previously served as a math instructor, since 1899. 

Average attendance at the High School climbed between 1897 
and 1905-06 from 241 to 258. The entering class in 1897 numbered 

281 



MERIDEX schools; 1860-1956 

110, with 31 continuing to graduation and ten of that number 
continuing their education at college or some other institution 
after they left high school. In 1905-06 the size of the entering class 
shrank to 99, but the number graduating rose to 38, and 14 
continued their post-high-school education. 

School finances, according to Mr. Kelly, were complex. "The 
first selectman pays all the bills from the appropriation as fast as 
they are approved by the school committee, but turns over the 
money for salaries in a lump sum each month to the clerk of the 
school committee, who attends to paying the employees, who are 
on salary. 

"The treasurer of the school committee receives the library 
grant from the state of $270 a year and a like amount of town 
funds from the first selectman. These are increased by a few 
tuition fees and other small sums. His receipts for 1904-05 were 
$848.58 and his expenditures for books and apparatus were 
$776.74. 

"The principal of the High School collects tuition from non- 
residents, and with it buys books for the High School library. 

"Thus, at the present time, four different persons receive, 
disburse, and account for the money used by the schools." 

A $150,000 bond issue was authorized in 1905 for new school 
construction and for additions and modernizations of existing 
buildings. West Grammar School, still in use as Lincoln Junior 
High, is today's memorial to that building program. 

By 1911 the public school enrollment was 4,433. The cost of 
transporting public school pupils was listed as: wagons, $750, 
electric cars, $359. 

iMeriden dentists volunteered their time and services in this 
year to examine all children's teeth, classifying 1,648 mouths as 
"bad," in need of immediate attention. The presence of 314 
"exposed nerves" and 69 "ulcers" was discovered. 

The census revealed that 714 children, 15 per cent of the school 
enrollment, were working instead of attending school. By 1915 
this figure had been reduced by 65 per cent. 

In 1907-08 the annual school cost per child was $38.60. By 1914 
it had climbed to $42.35 and in 1916 it was $50.48. It was $89.64 
in 1920, 112 per cent over the 1914 figure. 

After a quarter of a century of operation the Meriden High 
School was bulging at the seams. A poem by a member of the 

282 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

class of 1911 described the crisis: 

"Our school is overcrowded quite 

And something must be done 
For being packed in like sardines 

I tell you isn't fun. 

The classes in geometry 

Are hooked upon the walls; 
And Cicero and Caesar 

Are murdered in the halls. 

Now won't the citizens, humane, 

Please vote us a new school! 
And if they will we promise that 

We'll try to keep each rule." 

This moving plea was finally answered when a site was secured 
near the corner of Pleasant Street, and the opening of the present 
High School building was solemnized in 1913. 

The financial statement for 1917 shows a total of $209,982 
spent, and a budget of $251,025 was requested for the year 
1917-18. The average size of classes at this time was 34, with an 
18-pupil average at the High School. A marked improvement in 
the drop-out rate in the upper grades was evident over a ten-year 
period. 

During the first two decades of the twentieth century a steady 
rise in teachers' salaries is evident, paralleling the rise in the cost 
and standard of living. In 1906 the beginning salary for teachers 
was $400, with a $40 per year increase to a top of $560 or $600 
dependent on the taking of some additional education courses. 
By 1908, $480 was set as the minimum and $720 the maximum for 
grade school teachers. Women who taught at the High School 
could look to a top of $950 while men could qualify for posts 
paying as high as $1,600. 

In 1915 the maximum was $760 in the grades with a top of 
$800 set for the eighth grade. Women principals found their 
salaries pegged at $1,000. The 1917 schedule called for a $580 
starting salary which ran to a top of $900 for eighth grade 
teachers. Salaries for women teachers in the High School were 
between $750 and $1,200 with the maximum for men at $1,700. 
Women who were heads of departments were paid $1,350 and 
men received $1,850. Forty-two per cent of the budget increases 

283 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

due to teacher salaries occurred between 1911 and 1917. 

Meriden ranked fifth among 67 cities in the East of comparable 
size in 1920 in regards to median salary, with a minimum of $1,000 
and a maximum for men teaching in the High School of $2,500. 

Open-air classes were begun in 1918 in part of the old Church 
Street School to serve pupils with a history of personal or family 
tuberculosis and those who were underweight and in poor 
physical condition. They were a popular educational feature of 
the times. The cost to the city in that year was $7,292.18. In 1920, 
53 children were registered in the open-air classes. 

The Meriden Trade School opened its doors in September, 
1918. Designed to meet the needs of the young men of Meriden 
and surrounding communities for training in the mechanical arts, 
it was organized by agreement with the State Board of Education 
which furnished equipment and materials and paid the teachers. 
Meriden provided and maintained the building, furnished the 
heat, light, and power, and paid half the janitors' fees. 

Located in a factory building on the east end of Charles Street 
which was rented by the city, the school offered machine work, 
carpentry, electrical work, and drafting. Later in the year, courses 
in auto mechanics and pattern making were made available. 

The regular course, designed to be completed in two years, 
consisted of six hours of shop work and two of academic a day. 
A three-year cooperative course with the High School made it 
possible to attend that building in the mornings, complete the 
requirements for training in a trade in the afternoons, and receive 
a diploma from both institutions. Other schedules were possible 
through arrangements with employers. 

The School Board report for 1920 features a picture of a 
complete six-room house built by Trade School boys under the 
supervision of their instructors. One hundred forty-five students 
were registered in the day courses that year and 150 in the 
evening. The need for a new, more adequate building was already 
being pointed out. 

Since the consolidation of the school districts under the town, 
school policy had been directed by a board composed of 12 
members, half of whom were appointed by each political party. 
The size of the group as well as its obvious political allegiances 
and the fundamental split which this caused was a continuing 
handicap to effective operation. The need had long been evident 




MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

for a smaller elective school board which would be answerable 
directly to the voters and which would be in a position to make 
decisions and to act with responsibility. 

In 1921 Meriden's new city charter was approved by the Legis- 
lature and embodied in it was the provision for a Board of Educa- 
tion consisting of five members elected by the voters to serve on 
a staggered schedule, each holding office for six years. The new 
school board was voted into existence with the ratification of the 
charter and at the same time the last traces of the old school 
district system were obliterated. 

As the Board was set up then and continues to operate, it is n 
responsible for planning school policy which is executed by the 
superintendent. The Board hires all teachers and other personnel, 
accepting recommendations from the superintendent and from 
other administrators. It is also responsible for maintenance of 
buildings and their use, and for insurance. It decides on what 
courses are to be offered or dropped. 

The yearly school budget is contructed by the Board and it 
approves all bills which the school system incurs. However, the 
Board of Apportionment and Taxation must approve the budget, 
and can and has cut it when it deems fit. State aid for Meriden 
schools goes into the general city treasury, not directly into a 
separate category of school funds. 

The Board of Education meets twice a month, sometimes 
oftener, and serves without pay. Currently its members are also 
serving on the School Building Committee. Although candidates 
for the Board of Education run for election on the tickets of the 
two major parties, the Board has achieved a reputation for acting 
nonpolitically and most members tend to forget party labels in 
dealing with school problems. In this attitude they are carrying 
on the tradition of the many Meriden citizens who over the last 
century and a half have labored selflessly and intelligently, 
without pay, for the betterment of their community and its 
schools. 

Hint of a controversy which is still legally unsettled in Con- 
necticut and which probably will always continue to some degree 
came in April of 1922. Although the Board of Education is and 
has always been an organ of the State Department of Education 
and is required by law to carry out the state's statutes on educa- 
tional matters, it is the province of the city government to provide 

285 



MERIDEN" SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

the money by which this is accomplished. The conflict arises 
when the Board of Education votes a policy which requires funds 
to implement and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation 
refuses to appropriate these funds. 

State Education Commissioner Meredith pointed out to the 
Board at that time that school committees are state agents bound 
to carry out the intent of the state statutes regardless of financial 
support. He advised the Board that if the town refuses to give 
the money they, the Board, may "incur debt and if necessary take 
the matter into the courts." The argument this time, as on other 
occasions, was over the matter of a raise in teachers' salaries. 

Junior ROTC on a compulsory basis for the High School was 
instituted in 1921 at the request of the War Department. Carried 
on till 1922, it was discontinued because of overcrowding and lack 
of facilities. 

With the High School on half sessions, and the use of obsolete 
and inadequate buildings, including the Church Street School, 
stirring criticism, another major building program was planned. 
At its beginning the city was at 55 per cent of its debt limit. 

Names of famous historical personages were given to the 
schools in 1923, after some years of discussion. Contests were run 
among the school children who wrote essays advancing the causes 
of their favorite Revolutionary War heroes. Of the names chosen, 
only the High School's of "George Washington" refused to stick. 
Diplomas were issued under the title to the graduating classes of 
1924 and 1925 but "Meriden High School" was too deeply 
ingrained in the city's tradition, and in 1926 it reasserted itself. 

Also dropped was the name "Robert xMorris" for the South 
Meriden school. When the old building burned in 1932 the new 
one which replaced it was christened "Hanover" by common 
consent. The Nathan Hale School on Lewis Avenue was sold to 
Mount Carmel Church in 1942 and not until the new school on 
Baldwin Avenue was built did this popular and appropriate hero 
again possess a memorial. 

By 1925 the outlines of the Meriden school system as it is today 
had emerged. Jefferson Junior High School was built. The old 
West Grammar School was enlarged with the addition of a wing 
containing an auditorium-gymnasium and room for shop work, 
and was renamed Lincoln Junior High. These two schools took 
all seventh, eighth, and ninth grade pupils in the city except those 

286 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

in South iMeriden, who continued to attend the local school for 
seventh and eighth grades until 1934. Jonathan Trumbull School 
opened, the first elementary school to have a permanent stage, 
and took over the pupils from North Broad and Franklin Street 
Schools which were then closed. 

Adoption of the junior high school system was a sign of the 
changing philosophy of education. By 1921 the first experiments 
in the approach to teaching which has become known as "pro- 
gressive" were stirring the city to controversy. A policy was 
introduced whereby pupils were promoted not only on the basis 
of work completed in each grade but of ability to do more 
advanced work as shown by tests. A number of students whose 
test work ranked high were jumped a grade or half a grade. 
High-ranking students in the eighth grade were given ninth grade 
work to do and allowed to enter high school as sophomores. 

Another new idea was the introduction on an experimental 
basis by School Superintendent David Gibbs of the "platoon" 
system. This scheme divided the children of the lower grades 
into two equal groups, one of which studied academic subjects 
while the other used the gym, attended assemblies, or engaged in 
singing or drawing. It was designed to increase the capacity of 
school facilities. At the High School an experiment was in 
progress by which the students were divided into fast, medium, 
and slow classes so that each group could progress to best 
advantage. 

The junior high schools reflected the new philosophy of edu- 
cation which shifted the emphasis away from total concentration 
on academic subjects and undertook to provide a general cultural 
and citizenship background along with vocational training for 
the majority of young people who would not go to college. By 
evolving a program which would better meet the needs of early 
adolescents, educators hoped to combat the high drop-out rate. 

Dr. Gibbs resigned in 1926 while the controversy over his 
educational innovations was still raging. He was succeeded by 
C. C. Thompson. By 1927 there were 5,814 pupils enrolled in the 
public schools, reflecting the high birth rate of the World War 
I years, and again the cry was raised for new buildings to relieve 
overcrowding. The Roger Sherman School, opened in 1929, was 
built on Liberty Street, and the John Barry Annex, now the main 
building, went up on Columbia Street. In 1927 the Church Street 

287 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

School was finally closed and the land on which it stood returned 
to the city. 

Until now school health had been largely the province of the 
Child Welfare League, a public service organization supported 
by public contributions. In 1924 this organization reported that 
an examination of all high school girls had been completed. High 
school boys were examined the next year and an inordinate 
number were found to be afflicted with flat feet. It was suggested 
that the wearing of sneakers might cause this. 

The League reported in 1928 that because of lack of funds it 
would be unable to carry on its work and the Board of Education 
appropriated $11,792 for this purpose. It also accepted a dental 
clinic outfit which had formerly been the property of the League 
and the next year a dental hygienist was engaged. 

The year 1930 marked the passing of one of childhood's most 
cherished privileges. The system of no-school signals was dropped 
and it became the responsibility of the parents to determine when 
the weather was too bad to allow children to attend school. 

The High School had the doubtful distinction in 1931 of offer- 
ing the shortest school day of any high school in the state. An 
addition was once more discussed but because of the depression, 
the Board decided instead to house the overflow of students in 
the old Central Elementary School. 

On June 9 the State Trade School moved into its new building 
on Miller Street when it was accepted by the state. It was 
rechristened the Wilcox Technical School. 

Nicholas Moseley took over the duties of superintendent in 
1932. In spite of a continued climb in enrollment the school 
budget was cut by $100,000 to $538,973, mostly by reducing 
teachers' salaries. 

September of 1934 found a total enrollment in public and 
parochial schools of 8,568. It was voted to close two old schools 
in the outlying districts, one, the city's oldest, the Southeast 
School on Paddock Avenue which had been built in 1800. In a 
move to consolidate elementary schools in the face of dropping 
enrollment in the lower grades, the Willow Street School was 
closed and sold to the Polish Knights of the Blessed Virgin. The 
High School was put on half sessions. There was continued talk 
of a need for new high school facilities and of an addition to the 
Trade School, but no action was taken. 

288 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

Controversy over "progressive" versus old-fashioned educa- 
tional methods flared again in the mid 30's. It was pointed out that 
modern teacher training stressed the newer methods which were 
being reflected in public school teaching. In 1938 Mr. Moseley 
resigned, to be replaced by Raymond N. Brown. Under Mr. 
Brown a return to the more traditional ways of teaching was 
encouraged. 

Evening school enrollments climbed rapidly during the depres- 
sion years. Many recent high school graduates were among the 
784 registered in 1933. The enthusiasm and enterprise which 
characterized Meriden's program were highly praised by the 
state authorities. The high point was in 1934 with a registration of 
947. In 1935, 600 were registered, 150 of them in the non-English 
classes. The cost to the city per pupil per evening was less than 
ten cents. The Trade School addition was completed in 1937. 

After 75 years of operation, the North Colony Street School 
was closed in 1940 because of dropping enrollment in the area 
and was sold to the International Silver Company. Teacher 
salaries, which had been cut during the depression, were on their 
way up again, running from a starting rate of $1,251.25 to a top 
for executive positions of $5,000. Most fell within the $1,500 to 
$2,500 range. In 1943, the low birth rate of the depression years 
was reflected in an enrollment of 4,494. 

The Board of Education was praised in 1946 for providing 
special refresher courses in the summer for returning veterans. 
This program was discontinued in 1947 when the need for it 
passed. Average cost per school child at this time was $177.36 
per year compared with a state average of $161.08. The rule 
barring married teachers from employment was questioned for 
the first time, and was destined soon to be abandoned as the 
growing teacher shortage made it impractical. The maximum in 
this year for teacher salaries below the administrative and super- 
visory level was set at $2,800 to $3,900 depending on training 
and length of service. 

By 1947 the increased birth rate of the war years began to be 
reflected in school enrollments and it was obvious that a major 
school building program would be necessary. No major building 
had been undertaken since 1926. The city appropriated $35,000 
in 1948 to recondition the old High School building at the corner 
of Liberty and Catlin Streets, for use as an Annex. The Welfare 

289 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

Department was moved out, making the Annex available for 
classes in commercial subjects and the High School was put on 
single session again. 

The elementary school building program got under way in 
1948 with a half million dollar bonding issue for the Roger 
Sherman Annex. Six classrooms, an auditorium-gymnasium, a 
lunch room with kitchen facilities, lavatories, and additional 
office space were provided. Similar educational facilities were 
included in the new 12 -room Israel Putnam School on Parker 
Avenue and the 16-room Benjamin Franklin School. A $1,200,000 
bond issue financed these buildings which were opened in 1951. 

Badly needed expansion of the Hanover School was help up 
in 1951 when bonding authorities objected to the restrictive clause 
in the city charter barring capital improvements in the outer tax 
district. The necessary change in the charter was ratified and 
the Hanover addition opened its doors in 1954. An addition to the 
John Barry School of 12 rooms and additional facilities was 
completed in 1953, and four rooms were added to Jonathan 
Trumbull. 

The continued growth of school population made necessary 
the construction in 1955 of a four-room addition to the Parker 
Avenue Israel Putnam School and the construction of the new 
Nathan Hale School on Baldwin Avenue. No bonding was 
necessary for the Israel Putnam addition which was paid for out 
of current revenue. The Nathan Hale School has 16 classrooms 
but its extra-classroom facilities, which are not the equal of those 
in other newly constructed schools, reflect an attempt by the city 
to economize in the face of continued demand for expansion. A 
bond issue of $600,000 was issued for construction of this school. 

The Roger Sherman addition to the Annex, opened in 1949, 
cost $506,256, with state aid to the extent of $162,153 returnable 
over a 17-year period. It has 12 rooms. 

Benjamin Franklin School, opened in 1951, contains 17 rooms 
and cost $542,982, with $165,000 to be paid by the state over a 
20-year period. 

The new Israel Putnam School on Parker Avenue, opened in 
1951 with 12 rooms, cost $484,013, with $120,000 returnable by 
the state during 20 years. Four rooms which were built as an 
addition to this school and opened in September, 1955, were 
financed by an appropriation by the city of $100,000. Not yet 

290 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

accepted by the state, the new rooms are expected to receive 
about $36,000 in state aid, payable over a five-year period. 

Four rooms added to Jonathan Trumbull School in 1952 were 
built at a cost to the city of $192,400, with $59,414.80 returnable 
in state aid over the following 20 years. 

The John Barry School addition, opened in September of 1953 
and containing 12 rooms, was built at a cost of $632,035, with 
$158,335.40 returnable in state aid over a 20-year period. 

South Meriden's Hanover School addition, opened in 1954 and 
consisting of 10 rooms, cost $498,849.20 plus a sewer assessment 
levied by the city of $37,841.55, part of which will be recovered 
as additional users connect with the sewer line. State aid for 
Hanover, payable over 20 years, comes to $154,334.80. 

Costs are incomplete as yet for the Nathan Hale School on 
Baldwin Avenue, consisting of 14 rooms plus two kindergartens 
and due for use in September, 1956. It is estimated that state aid 
may run to around $156,000. 

Meriden is currently faced with a need for secondary school 
expansion as higher enrollments make themselves felt in the upper 
grades. When the High School opens in September it will be 
operating at full capacity, and even with continued use of the 
obsolete Annex, half sessions will be necessary by 1957, if no new 
building is available. The junior high schools are above capacity 
currently and face the alternatives in September, 1956 of going 
on half sessions or housing some classrooms in temporary quarters. 

Planned to meet the need are two new high schools, one on 
Coe Avenue on the west side of Meriden and one on the east side, 
capable together of handling the projected enrollment of at least 
2,400 foreseen for the mid 1960's. The present High School would 
then be converted for use as a junior high school. Lincoln Junior 
High stands in need either of rebuilding or of enlargement and 
drastic modernization and Jefferson is also slated for improvement. 
The bill for Meriden taxpayers may run as high as six or seven 
million dollars, with state aid defraying the balance of the cost. 

Meriden's school building program since 1949 has been under 
the direction of the School Building Committee. This group was 
appointed by Mayor Howard Houston in accordance with a 
state statute passed in that year. At the request of bonding 
authorities, it handled financing for the Roger Sherman addition. 
Enlarged in 1950, it now includes the five members of the Board 

291 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

of Education, a member from the Court of Common Council, 
one from the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, the Building 
Inspector, a representative from the PTA, and three members 
chosen from the public at large who, by custom, are often engi- 
neers. Appointments are made by the mayor. 

So well did the committee fulfill its function that it continued 
to operate during the whole of the elementary school building 
program. Late in 1953 a question arose over its standing because 
at the time of the original appointments no term of office had been 
set for its members. This oversight was remedied when the 
council voted that the members serve two-year terms from the 
time of appointment. 

Elementary school buildings in use in 1956 are: Jonathan 
Trumbull, opened in 1925 and added to in 1952; Israel Putnam 
on Parker Avenue, built in 1951, with a four-room addition 
completed in 1955, the old Israel Putnam School on South Broad 
Street, built in 1884 and since enlarged by six rooms; the new Ben- 
jamin Franklin School on West Main Street; Hanover in South 
Meriden, built in 1937 and enlarged and modernized in 1954; Sam- 
uel Huntington School on King Street, built in 1887 and recondi- 
tioned in the mid 20's; the old John Barry on Columbia Street, 
built in 1894 and slated for closing as soon as enrollments permit; 
the John Barry Annex plus the new building which was completed 
in 1953; Roger Sherman, built in 1929 and enlarged in 1949; and 
the new Nathan Hale School, scheduled for use in September of 
1956. There are two junior high schools: Jefferson on the east side, 
built in 1926; and Lincoln, originally constructed for use as a 
grammar school in 1905 and converted to its present use by 
addition of a wing in 1926. The High School on Pleasant Street 
was opened in 1913. Meriden's total, school plant, including sites, 
buildings, and equipment, is at present valued at $7,862,500. 

Currently, Meriden teachers receive a starting salary of $3,400 
with the maximum for those with a bachelor's degree set at 
$5,400. Further raises are probable as the city struggles to meet 
the teacher shortage and to retain its position in a state-wide 
competitive situation. 

Report cards in the elementary grades reflected modern theories 
of education when traditional marking was abandoned in 1951. 
Seeking to give information on individual effort and achievement 
as well as on pupils' standing in relation to the class, authorities 

292 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

adopted a system which graded each subject in relation to the 
pupil's effort plus an indication of his class standing. This was 
found to be confusing and in 1955 a return was made to the more 
orthodox method, with a special section provided to acquaint 
parents with students' working habits and general levels of 
accomplishment. 

All elementary schools except the old Israel Putnam on South 
Broad Street and the Samuel Huntington have hot lunch pro- 
grams, open to children within walking distance of the schools 
as well as to bus children. The program shares in the Federal 
Surplus Food arrangement and is self-supporting except for initial 
capital investments of kitchen equipment. 

Stimulated by the growing need for school expansion, branches 
of the Parent-Teacher Association which had been dormant since 
the mid-3 0's were reformed from 1948 on. PTA's are active in 
all the elementary schools and the two junior high schools while 
the High School has its equivalent in the Fathers' Club. Their 
influence has been felt beyond the traditional area of better 
understanding between parents and teachers. Through the PTA 
Council, a consultive body made up of representatives of the 
Meriden branches, information on school building needs and plans 
has been relayed to members and the public, which has resulted 
in better understanding of and support for Meriden's school 
needs. 

Since 1950 the health of all Meriden school children has been 
the province of the Health Department. Previous to that time the 
public school health program was under the control of the Board 
of Education while the Health Department provided health 
services to the parochial schools. This program began in 1923, 
with the appointment of one full-time nurse and one part-time 
physician to work with non-public school children. 

The present program employs the services of a school health 
advisor, a supervisor of nurses, eight school nurses and two 
dental hygienists, all on a full-time basis, and six physicians and 
two dentists part-time. Dr. John E. Stoddard, who served as 
medical advisor and physician for athletics at the High School 
from 1912 to 1954 on a voluntary basis, is currently school health 
advisor. 

Since the reorganization in 1950, a health manual to serve as 
a comprehensive guide for all health procedures and activities has 

293 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

been prepared and accepted and the standards for health service 
in public and parochial schools have been equalized. A daily 
screening of all pupils is carried out, hearing tests are made, and 
nurse-teacher conferences are featured. High School students are 
offered tuberculin tests and chest X-rays. Vaccination against 
smallpox has been made compulsory for all pupils entering school. 
Immunization against diptheria, whooping cough, and tetanus is 
recommended and offered at school clinics but is given only after 
written consent by the parent. Fluoride treatment for the teeth 
of children in the lower grades has been made available, and a Salk 
vaccine program against polio is partially completed. 

School nurses are trained and equipped to help children who 
suffer illness and accidents at school, but an important segment of 
their effort is devoted to educational work which will improve 
pupils' general health level and teach them to avoid disease and 
accident. To this end they try to work closely with teachers and 
parents on health education projects and to follow up and inter- 
pret health tests on pupils involving such factors as sight, hearing, 
dental conditions, and the like, with a view to their correction. 

September, 1955, found 6,635 registered in Meriden's public 
schools, an increase of 422 over the previous year. A count of 
preschool children revealed 800 five-year olds, 985 three-year olds, 
and 1,053 one-year olds, suggesting that expansion beyond what is 
presently planned may eventually be necessary. 1,000 students 
are registered at the High School, 1,419 in the junior highs, and 
4,216 in the elementary schools. A total of 357 persons are 
employed by the school system, of whom 257 are teachers. In 
addition there are ten principals, three vice-principals, five super- 
visors, 41 custodians, and 39 serving as clerks, librarians, and 
cafeteria workers. 

Wilcox Technical School, run by the state on buildings con- 
structed and maintained by the city, had an enrollment last year 
of 325, with 25 teachers. Students devote half their time here to 
non-shop courses, choosing their shop training from a list which 
includes mechanical drafting, auto mechanics, machine, electrical, 
carpentry, silversmithing, printing, sheet metal, tool and die, and 
ornamental design. Several girls are currently enrolled in the 
ornamental design course. 

According to the Connecticut Public Expenditure Council, 
Meriden's per pupil cost for the school year ending in 1955 was 

294 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

$250.60, a rank of 80th among 169 Connecticut towns. The school 
budget for 1956 is $1,912,290.30 plus $254,387.50 in interest and 
school bond payments. Meriden currently receives $58.75 per 
pupil in state aid. 

In February of 1956, evening school enrollment totaled 831, 
of whom 52 were in classes for the foreign born, 508 were in the 
general division, and the rest were in co-sponsored activities 
which included navigation, the Savings and Loan Institute, and 
the Investment Forum. 

In 1955 George Magrath became Superintendent of Schools, 
replacing Dr. Malcolm Rogers who had served from 1949. Mark 
Bollman took over the post of principal of the High School 
vacated by Mr. Magrath, and J. Ormonde Phelan assumed the 
duties of administering the adult evening school, carried out since 
1927 by Mr. Bollman. 

The parochial school of St. John's Lutheran Church closed its 
doors in 1955 after more than 70 years of service. It was founded 
in 1886 with an enrollment of 27 scholars and in 1905 nearly 200 
scholars were meeting for instruction in classrooms in the lower 
part of the church. The spreading of the parish membership and 
the problems of transportation and traffic hazards were among 
the prime factors in the decision to discontinue the school. 

St. Laurent's parochial school began with the arrival from 
Nicolet, P.Q., Canada of five Assumption nuns to teach the 
children of the parish. Classes were begun in the basement of the 
church but by 1894 enrollment had risen to 300 and larger 
quarters had become necessary. A brick structure of six rooms 
was completed in 1903 and has since been enlarged. 

Teaching is still done by the Sisters of the Assumption, who 
have established an American novitiate at Petersham, Mass. Enroll- 
ment at St. Laurent's as of September, 1955, stood at 318 students, 
with nine teachers. French grammar and church doctrine are 
stressed in the school's curriculum. 

St. Mary's parochial school opened in 1896, six years after the 
founding of the parish. Its pupils were and continue to be taught 
by the Notre Dame Sisters of Baltimore, Md., of whom there are 
at present four at the school. The present building which has five 
classrooms, houses also the parish hall and the convent and was 
constructed in 1937. 

Currently, 166 students are enrolled in the classes at St. Mary's 

295 



MERIDEN SCHOOLS; 1860-1956 

which cover the first through the eighth grades. The school 
stresses a well-rounded basic educational program and possesses a 
well-stocked library of film strips for the enrichment of regular 
classroom work. 

The story of Meriden's parochial schools begins in 1855, seven 
years before free public schools were established by the town. In 
this year classes for Catholic children were started in the base- 
ment of the church building at the corner of Broad and Olive 
Streets which St. Rose's parish had bought from the Episcopal 
congregation. By 1860 the school was able to move to the new 
church building at the present location on Center Street, which 
had been enlarged and provided with basement rooms for this 
purpose. During these early years, students were instructed by lay 
teachers under the direction of the pastor. 

A new school building was constructed on Liberty Street in 
1872, and later moved to the rear of the present building. To staff 
the school, the church arranged to have a band of four Sisters of 
Mercy obtain permission from their motherhouse in Ennis, 
County Clare, Ireland, to come to Meriden. A chapel was built 
for them in 1887 and an addition to the convent was constructed 
in the same year. 

Today the school consists of 12 classrooms, with the facilities 
of St. Rose Community Building available for gymnasium and 
other activities. Classes range from the first through the eighth 
grades, and are taught by eight Sisters of Mercy from the Mt. 
St. Joseph motherhouse in Hartford and four secular teachers. 
September, 1955, showed an enrollment of 433 children. Teaching 
stresses the three "R's" plus the fourth — Religion. A school 
orchestra has been formed to participate in the Parochial School 
Music Festival. 

Generous oversubscription by parishioners to a school building 
fund has made certain the construction of a new eight-room 
addition to the school plant. The addition will make possible a 
much larger enrollment and ninth-grade instruction is also 
planned, along with increased junior high school facilities. 

St. Stanislaus' parochial school opened its doors in 1897 with 
one teacher and an enrollment of 20 scholars. By 1905 the enroll- 
ment had climbed to 120 pupils, another room was added, and 
two teachers gave instruction, one in Polish and one in English. 
After the new church was built at its present location on Olive 

296 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

Street, the former church building was used as a parochial school. 

The new school, built at the present location, was completed 
in 1915, of Gothic design to conform to the architecture of the 
church. Its teachers are Sisters of St. Joseph whose motherhouse 
in at St. Stevens Point, Wisconsin. St. Stanislaus is Meriden's 
largest parochial school, with 703 scholars enrolled in classes 
which run from the first through the eighth grades. Current plans 
call for further expansion of the school, to meet the increasing 
enrollment. 

When St. Joseph's Church completed its new building on West 
Main Street, the former chapel on the corner of Butler Street 
which the congregation had purchased from the Trinity Metho- 
dist Church was put to use as a parochial school. By 1905 
instruction in the first through the sixth grades was being carried 
on in five rooms by the Sisters of Mercy from the Convent of St. 
Bridget, with an enrollment of 260 pupils. 

Early in 1915 work began on the present parochial school, 
located in the block adjoining the church, and the building was 
dedicated in the same year. At about the same time a parochial 
residence was built on Goodwill Avenue and a convent was pro- 
vided for the Sisters of Mercy. Extensive improvements including 
an enlargement of the playground have been made since. Enroll- 
ment at St. Joseph's in September, 1955, was 350 pupils, under 
the direction of nine teachers. Classes range from kindergarten 
through eighth grade. 

In 1944, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church purchased from the 
city the Nathan Hale School on Lewis Avenue and arranged for 
its conversion into a parochial school. The building has been 
renovated to make it more fire resistant, and classes are taught 
from kindergarten through the ninth grade. 

Twelve classrooms are in use, with the ninth grade, the only 
one in the city taught in a parochial school, employing three of 
them for its commercial and classical instruction. Students are 
taught by ten Religious Teachers Filippini from the motherhouse 
in Morristown, New Jersey. A lay teacher is in charge of the 
kindergarten. Italian is taught throughout the school in addition 
to the regular school subjects. Special attention is given to recent 
arrivals from Italy who speak little or no English; 14 of these 
students have been enrolled during this year. All students from 
fifth grade up are enrolled in Civics clubs which are chartered 

297 



MERIDEN schools; 1860-1956 

with and receive material from the Catholic University of 
America. Emphasis is on local and national problems of govern- 
ment and community living. 

Holy Angels' Church in South Meriden has acquired about eight 
acres of land on Meadow Street as the eventual site of a new 
church plant which will include for the first time a parochial 
school. 






298 



CHAPTER FORTY-TWO 






Buildino- Meriden 



Building construction in Meriden since World War II has never 
been fully able to keep pace with the demand. The city has been 
spreading out in all directions to an extent almost beyond the 
conception of the earthbound observer. Only from the air, on a 
clear day, can the city's growth be seen in one wide panorama, 
with its network of new streets in the outskirts, and new develop- 
ments crowning every hill. 

In 1955, a total of 1,167 building permits was issued, with a 
valuation of $8,652,048, which by no means represents the full 
value of these properties, which is always listed at only a 
proportion of actual cost. Included in this figure were the new 
International Silver Company factory and administration building 
on South Broad Street, listed at $4,000,000; the Meriden Boys' 
Club, listed at $200,000, and the new church of St. Peter and St. 
Paul, listed at $134,000. 

Of the total permits last year, 320 were for one-family units, 
valued at $2,721,335. In each of the last Rvq years, this rate of 
growth has been maintained. Most of the homes built were for 
one-family occupancy. Exceptions were the Chamberlain Heights 
development, which has been occupied for the last two years, 
the Yale Acres, another moderate rental development of much 
the same type, with multiple family apartment buildings, and the 
Johnson Farms development in South Meriden. 

A survey of Meriden building, taken in the fall of 1955, showed 
an increase of more than a million dollars in building permits over 
the preceding 12 months. Residential construction alone was half 
a million dollars ahead for the same period. 

The Meriden Planning Commission has had the task of examin- 
ing plans for new developments to make sure that they meet the 
requirements of the city, with respect to the layout of streets, the 
character of the structures proposed, and many other details. 
Zoning regulations must be adhered to, and variances are only 
granted for the best of reasons. 

When zoning was first instituted here, nothing could be done 

299 



BUILDING MERIDEN 

about the disorganized growth which had taken place for much 
longer than Meriden's first century. The regulations were for the 
future, and they proved invaluable, especially in recent years. 

Revision of the local building code, a project in long prepara- 
tion, has been completed, and should prove of material assistance 
in keeping building construction orderly and of a character in 
keeping with the best interests of the city. 

Mechanical installations of all types are well covered in the 
code. Heating, air conditioning, oil burners, plumbing, and electri- 
cal work are carefully inspected. Boards of examiners have been 
established, each board consisting of a master tradesman and two 
journeymen, each of the two having had at least 10 years experi- 
ence. A Building Department representative sits as an ex officio 
member. These boards conduct examinations for those seeking 
licenses as master tradesmen or journeymen, and recommend in 
writing to the building commissioners what action should be 
taken on each application. 

There is a further regulatory group — a board of appeals, with 
authority to affirm, modify, or reverse a decision of the building 
commissioners when acting upon an appeal. A further application 
may be submitted by an aggrieved person to the Court of 
Common Pleas for the area within 15 days after the filing of the 
board's decision. 

In this manner, the city is attempting to maintain high standards 
for the protection of Meriden's future, and to avoid the repetition 
of mistakes which may have been made in the past. 



300 



CHAPTER FORTY-THREE 



The Sesquicentennial 

The first step toward the observance of Meriden's 150th birthday 
was taken on February 18, 1955 when the Merchants' Bureau of 
the Meriden Chamber of Commerce submitted a petition to 
Mayor Altobello and the Court of Common Council asking that 
a Sesquicentennial committee be named to embrace all interests 
in the community. 

The mayor approved the idea and the council gave its endorse- 
ment. Parker B. Allen was named general chairman, and the 
formation of committees began almost at once. An elaborate 
framework of organization was drawn up, resembling in many 
respects the plans for the Centennial celebration of 50 years ago. 

The dates selected for the Sesquicentennial were June 17-23 of 
the current year, and city-wide participation was assured from 
the start. Invitations were sent far and wide to former residents, 
and many wrote back almost at once to state that they were 
coming. 

The program adopted designated Sunday, June 17, as Church 
Day; Monday, June 18, as School Day; Tuesday, June 19, as 
Industrial Day; Wednesday, June 20, as Governor's Day; Thurs- 
day, June 21, as Celebrity Day; Friday, June 22, as Homecoming 
Day; Saturday, June 23, as Community Day. 

Special events in keeping with these designations were arranged. 

This book was prepared as one phase of the program, its cost 
underwritten from the $28,000 fund approved by the council for 
the expenses of the 150th anniversary observance. No profit will 
be realized by any member of the committee which prepared it, 
and receipts from its sale will be paid into the fund. 



301 



Index 



Abbott, Emma, 128 

Abele, Francis H., 193 

Abele, Robert P., 193 

Ackroyd, W. E., 179 

Adams, John Quincy, 82 

Aldrich, Malcolm E., 193 

Alexander, W. S., 150, 212 

Allen, Levi, 29 

Allen, Lew, 203 f. 

Allen, Parker B., 178, 255, 301 

Allen, Walter, 204 

Allen, William V., 265 

Aloia, Lewis V., 164 

Altobello, Henry D., 102, 152, 159, 175, 225, 
301 

"Amelia" (launch), 117 

American Lady's Preceptor, 53 

Amoroso, Michael, 234 

Anderson, John J., 236 

Anderson, Leslie H., 146 

Anderson, Mary, 128 

Anderson, Verner, 146 

Andrews, Abner, 49 

Andrews, Moses, 13 f., 22 f. 

Andrews, Samuel, 13 

Andrews Homestead Committee, 23 

Angevine, Norman, 146 

Antietam, battle of, 96 

Appomattox, surrender at, 98 

Archaeological Society of Connecticut, 7 

Archer, H. A., 25 

Arnold, Owen B., 100, 201, 210 

Arnold, Walter T., 260 

Athletic fields: Bronson Avenue Field, 233 f.; 
Ceppa Field, 233 f.; Columbus Park, 233 
f. ; Legion Field, 233 f.; North End Field, 
233; South Meriden Field, 233; Washing- 
ton Park, 233 f. 

Athorne, Albert R., 191 

Atwater, Francis, 203 f., 211 f. 

Atwater, Isaac, 49 

Atwater, Stephen, 46, 49 

Austin, Benjamin, 45 f., 49 

Austin, John, 45 

Automobiles, 125 ff. 

Aviation Commission, 160 

Babcock, Sam, 135 

Badner, Donald, 241 

Bailey, Stephen, 21 

Baker, Ellis B., 105, 198 f. 

Baker, "Home Run," 134 

Baldwin, Lieutenant Colonel, 47 

Baldwin, Asahel, 81 

Baldwin, L. G., 86 

Baldwin, "Preacher," 15 

Baldwin, Ransom, 44 

Baldwin, Raymond E., 187 

Baldwin, S. W., 208 

Baldwin, Samuel, 28 

Baldwin, Simeon, 60 

Bambax, James, 146 

Bangall, 19, 28. See also East Meriden 

Baranski, Leonard, 191 

Barber, Arthur L., News from Home, 184, 
188 

Barber, John W., Connecticut Historical Col- 
lections, 20, 35 

Barber, Willis N., 224 

Barbour, Samuel L., 91 

Bario, John H., 100 

Barker, Arthur Alfred, 94 

Barnard, W. L., 115 

Barnes, Asa, 24 

Barnes, Eli, 161 

Barnes, John, 49 

Barnes, John R., 212 

302 



Barnes, Moses, 161 

Barnikow, Frank, 136 

Barry, Jack, 134 

Barry, James, 230, 232, 234 

Barsneck, Fred M., 146 

Bartlett, Harris S., 210 

Bartlett, Martha, 247 

Bassett, George, 225 

Battle, George C, 268 

Baumann, Alice, 239 

Beach, Samuel N., 103 

Beebe, DeLloyd E., 149 

Beecham, Joe, 136 

Beecher, Henry Ward, 250 

Begley, D. M., 212 

Beierle, Emil E., 191 

3elcher, Andrew, 4, 18, 62 

Belden, James E., 100 

Beloff, Arthur, 219 

Beloff, Marvin, 219 

Beloff, Samuel L., 219 

Bemis, Leslie C, 146 

Benham, Jared, 45, 49 

Benham, Welcome E., 31, 33 f., 36, 62 

Berberich, John W., 147 

Berger, Robert, 25 

Bergeron, Joseph E., 191 

Berlin, Conn., 3 ff., 34 f., 73 

Berry, Divan, 28, 46, 49 

Berry, Ephraim, 27 

Bertagna, Guido, 234 

Berwick, William F., 191 

Besse, Lyman, 219 

Bevins, LeGrand, 257 

Bibeau, Henry C, 156 f., 212 

Bieluczyk, Edward, 191 

Biesak, Arthur J., 191 

Bigeiow, Elizabeth, 253 

Billard, Frederick H., 214 

Billard, John D., 211, 213 f., 226 

Billard, John I., 71-2 

Billard, John L., 198, 201, 213 f„ 226 

Binch, Samuel, 272 

Bingham, Darius, Jr., 86 

Birdsey, Alanson, 62 

Birdsey, Eli C, 29, 62, 219, 224, 260 

Birdsey, Linus, 236 

Bishop, Welles, 191 

Bishop, Willys, 49 

Bishop, Yale, 49 

Blachuta, Vincent J., 191 

Black Boss, 47 

Blatchley, Marchand C, 256 

Blish, Roger D., 199 

Biiss, E. A., 179 f. 

Bliss, William E., 180 

Blocks, buildings, and other properties: Allen 
house, 29; Andrews homestead, 22 ff.; 
Archer's Corners, 25; Bailey house, 21; 
Baldwin house, 28, 44-5; Baldwin's Mill, 
43; Barnes Block, 224; Belcher house, 64; 
Belcher Tavern, 21, 32, 55; Berry house, 
27; Birdsey house, 29, 62; Board of Trade 
Building, 179; Brooks farm, 216; Bush- 
nell's Block, 251; Butler house, 29; Byxbee 
Block, 215 f., 221, 236, 258; Cahill Block, 
129; Camp property, 239; Cashen Build- 
ing, 259; Castle Craig, 228; Central Build- 
ing, 208; Central Tavern, 33, 35 ff., 54, 
63, 72, 144; Chamberlain Heights, 162, 
299; Charter Oak Fire House, 105; Cher- 
niack Building, 71, 216, 219 f., 254; Circle 
Hall, 194; Citadel, 254; City Hall, 225; 
Club Inn, 21; Coe Block, 224; Coe Build- 
ing, 213; Coe farm, 24; Coe house, 256; 
Coe property, 260; Cold Spring Home, 



INDEX 



162; Collins Block, 207; Collins house, 
29; Collins residence, 215 f.; Colonial 
Hall, 259; Colony Building, 73, 142, 199, 
220 f.; Columbus Hall, 272; Conklin's Hotel, 
70; Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. Build- 
ing, 222; Cook house, 239; Corrigan's 
Corner, 4; Cowles' stone-cutting yard, 63; 
Curtis house, 22, 25-6, 247-8; Derecktor 
Building, 71, 222; Dunn house, 34; Farms 
district, 274; Federal Building, 235; Fel- 
lows farm, 101; Franklin Hall Building, 
236; G.A.R. Block, 219; Gale Terrace, 162, 
185; Gilbert-Belcher farm, 3-4; Grand 
Army Hall, 259; Guy house, 29; Guy 
property, 235; Hall house (Ives house), 
28; Hall and Lewis Building, 216, 219 f., 
254; Hart house, 25; Hicks Building, 220; 
Hill Building, 236; Holt Hill Bridge, 38; 
Hough farm, 25; Hough house, 54; 
Hough's Tavern, 55, 60; Italian-American 
Club Building, 252; Ives house, see Hall 
house; Johnson Farms, 162, 299; John- 
son house, 24, 55; Journal Hall, 143; 
Legion Home, 257; Lonigan Building, 
197; Loop, 71; Lyceum Building, 39; 
Lyon and Billard property, 189, 199; 
Martin's Hall, 194; Masonic Temple, 246, 
256, 260; Meriden House, 220; Meriden 
House Block, 221; Meriden Institute Build- 
ing, 278; Meriden Opera House, 112; 
Meriden Roller Skating Rink, 113; Merriam 
house, 29; Milking Yard, 11, 56; Molloy- 
McGar Building, 221; Morse and Cook 
Block, 199, 216; Moses Andrews home- 
stead, 13; Moses Hall, 49; Mother Goose 
Farm, 27; Nabb's Folly, 33; Norton house, 
34; Palace Block, 88, 114, 260; Piatt 
house, 252; Plumb house, see Rice house; 
Plum's Tavern, 63; Pomeroy house, 28; 
Professional Building, 247; "Railroad Re- 
fectory," 71; Raven farm, 7; Rest Home, 
27; Rice house (Plumb house), 25, 28 f., 
see also Royce house; Richmond house, 
259; Rogers Block, 103, 189; Rogers Ho- 
tel, 70 f.; Rogers Memorial Building, 263; 
Royce (Deacon Robert) house, 25; Russell 
Building, 203; St. Rose Community Build- 
ing, 264, 296; St. Rose Community Center, 
249; St. Stanislaus Community Center, 
271; Sugarman Block, 222; Taylor farm, 
101; Terrace Garden, 116; Town Hall, 238, 
265, 275; Turner Hall, 259; Veterans' Ad- 
visory Center, 190; W. G. Warnock prop- 
erty, 256; Washington Park Field House, 
150; Watrous farm, 132, 175; Welfare 
Building, 190; Wilcox Block, 127, 129, 
199, 215, 220, 236, 259 f. ; Wilcox prop- 
erty, 243; Winthrop Bar, 121; Winthrop 
Hotel, 74, 132, 199, 256 f.; Winthrop 
Hotel Block, 219; Winthrop Square, 73, 
141, 199, 236; Yale Acres, 162, 299; Yale 
houses, 22, 27-8, 29; Yost Block, 125; 
Y.M.C.A. Building, 219, 266 f. 

Blue Laws, 5 

Bogacz, Menceslaus, 191 

Bogucki, Joseph, 188, 195 

Bolden, Harry, 133 

Bolles, Frank G., 103 

Bollman, Mark, 295 

Bomgren, Charles R., 269 

Bonarek, Frank, 147 

Booth, Adele S., 278, 281 

Booth, Edwin, 128 

Booth, Walter, 209, 212, 235 

Booth, Walter, General, 36 

Borek, John, 234 

Boston, 2, 35, 44 

Bournique, Constantine J., 147 

Bowe, Wallace F., 125 

Bowen, Charles B., 108 ff. 

Bowers, George N., 257 



Bowman, Robert, 215 

Boyd, Edward, 245 

Boynton, Arthur E., 219 

Bradford, Joseph, 127 

Bradley, Clarence P., 112, 228, 240, 243 

Bradley, Colonel, 46 

Bradley, Daniel, 26 

Bradley, Elisha K., 94 

Bradley, Ernest T., 195 

Bradley, Harriet, 26 

Bradley, Helen, 96 

Bradley, Nathaniel L., 201, 214, 228, 239 f. 

Bradley, Mrs. Nathaniel L., 240 

Bradley Home for the Aged, 112, 185, 243-4, 

245 
Bradstreet, E. T., 116, 157, 238 f. 
Brainard, E. K., 115 
Brainard, J. E., 114 
Brandenberger, James H., 191 
Branford, 6 
Brasyl, Walter, 133 
Brechlin, Fred Emil, 191 
Breck, Richard, 241 

Breckenridge, Frances A., Recollections of a 
New England Town, 14 ff., 39, 52 ff., 
56, 60, 67 
Brenner, Felix E., 147 
Briscoe, Nicholas, 147 
Bristol, 77, 83 
Broad Street Cemetery, 39 
Brooks, D. Warren, 179 
Brooks, James S., Judge, 69 ff., 208 f., 216 
Brooks, Mary, 96 
Brown, Aaron, 223 
Brown, Asa, 49 
Brown, Edwin H., 240 
Brown, George, 115 
Brown, Raymond N., 289 
Brown, Richard H., 147 
Bruel, Alvin C, Jr., 179 
Brusie, John N., 183 
Bryant, Charles, 115 
Buckingham, Governor, 95 
Budzinack, Frank, 191 
Buffalo Bill, 128 
Bull, Wallis, 236 
Bull Run, battle of, 95 
Bullard, H. M., 223 
Bulluss, John B., 147 
Bulmer, W. H., 215 
Bunting, James E., Jr., 171 
Burbank, Henry G., 147 
Burdacki, Theodore, 165 
Burgess, Harry T., 176, 255 
Burgess, Orlando, 215 
Burke, E. J., 120 
Burke, Henry J., 195 
Burke, William H., 193 
Burkinshaw, Thomas H., 228 
Burney, Fanny, 53 
Burnside Expedition, 96 
Bush, Fenner, 53, 208 

Business and industrial firms: Aeolian Co., 
120; Alderman Motor Co., 126; Ailing 
Rubber Co., 221; American Shoe Repairing 
Co., 224; American Silver Co., 91, 174; 
Armour plant, 203; Barbour Silver Co., 
91; Barbour Silver Plate Co., 174; Barker 
and Finnegan, 94; Bartholomew and Coe, 
225; R. Bemont and Son, 171; J. D. Ber- 
gen Co., 120; Berley's, 222; Besse-Boeker 
Co., 219; Besse-Boynton Co., 219; E. A. 
Bliss Co., 120, 179; Boston and Meriden 
Clothing Co., 221; A. Bowe and Son, 125; 
Boynton's, Inc., 219, 250; Bradley and 
Hubbard Mfg. Co., 83, 120, 178, 227; 
Broderick and Curtin's Pharmacy, 223; 
Brooklyn Thermometer Co., 171; Brooks 
and Tibbals, 82; Brown's Department 
Store, 223; Budd Motors, 126; Bullard, 
Fowler and LaPlace, Inc., 223; Butler and 



303 



INDEX 



Larkin, 220; Butler Paint Co., 220; Cali- 
fornia Wine Co., 120; Chandler-Evans 
Corp., 171; Cherniack Co., 220; Church 
and Morse, 222; Church and Sprague, 222; 
Patrick Clark and Sons, 82; Clarke and 
Converse, 226; J. B. Coggins Mfg. Co., 
87; Colt Patent Firearms Co., 169; Con- 
necticut Breweries Co., 120; Connecticut 
Electric Equipment Co., 29; Connecticut 
Gas Products, 171; Connecticut Record 
Mfg. Co., 171; Connors' "Segar" Store, 
71; Converse and Seymore, 226; Couch 
and Benham, 86; G. R. Cummings Roof- 
ing Co., 226; Cuno Engineering Corp., 
179; Davis and Greenfield, 224; Danaher 
Bros., 126; Daylight Mfg. Co., 171; Derby 
Silver Co., 91; Doolittle Box Co., 170; 
E. J. Doolittle Truck Co., 104; Ellmore 
Silver Co., 171; Emerson and Whitney, 
220; Evans and Longdon, 83; C. N. Flagg 
and Co., 226; D. W. Flint, Inc., 126; 
Forbes Silver Co., 91; Foster Merriam and 
Co., Inc., 87; Franklin Dress Co., 171; 
G. H. French and Co., 171; Fritz Bros., 
169; Fuller and Wood, 197; Gallup, 
Stockwell and Co., 221; A. T. Gallup Co., 
221; General Electric Co., 171; Genung's, 
Inc., 222; Gilmartin and Day, 126; Gil- 
martin Motor Sales Corp., 126; Girard 
and Garvey, 133; Goodman Bros., 171; 
Goodrich and Rutty, 82; W. T. Grant Co., 
222; Griswold, Richmond and Glock Co., 
223; Oscar Gross and Sons, 223; Growers 
Outlet, 223; Hall, Elton and Co., 91 f. ; 
A. J. Hall Co., 169; J. R. Hall Co., 170; 
Hamrah's, 219; Handel Co., 120, 170; 
Handley Bros. Co., 170; Harrissier, Lee 
and Bros., 133; Hartford Silver Plate Co., 
91; Charles J. Hayek's Jewelry Store, 223; 
Helmschmied Mfg. Co., 169; Herco Art 
Mfg. Co. (successor to H. E. Rain and 
Co.), 171; Holmes and Edwards Silver 
Co., 91; Horton Printing Co., 128; T. D. 
Hotchkiss Co., 171; Howard Bros., 220; 
Howard Pratt and Co., 81; Hull Printing 
Co., 92; Hyman and Gross, 223; Interna- 
tional Silver Co., 75, 90 f., 159, 169, 
172-5, 176, 186, 234, 289, 299; Isbell and 
Curtis Co., 81; Harry Israel, Inc., 223; 
Ives, Upham and Rand, 219; Jepson's 
Book Store, 221; Jennings and Griffin 
Mfg. Co., 168 f.; A. H. Jones, 168 f.; 
Journal Publishing Co., 204; Katt Bros., 
222; Julius Katt, 169; James T. Kay Co., 
225; Kelsey Co., 168 f.; Kennedy and 
Ragone Co., 169; Kresge's, 222; J. La- 
courciere Co., 222; Lambson Specialty 
Co., 171; Landers, Frary and Clark, 169; 
Lane Construction Co., 225; John S. Lane 
and Son, Inc., 225; Langner and Hayek, 
224; LaPierre Mfg. Co., 91, 174; W. H. 
Leaman Co., 171; Lemke and Reiske, 170; 
Lewis and Holt, 84; S. C. Lewis, 169; 
Liggett's Drug Store, 121; Liggett Co., 
222; H. Wales Lines Co., 199, 204, 225, 
260; Little and Somers, 223; Little, Somers 
and Hyatt, 223; H. Little and Co., 223; 
William J. Luby, 169; Lutz Co., 171; 
Lyman and Clarke, 226; Lynch Drug Co., 
224; Lyon and Billard Co., 226; Maltby, 
Stevens and Curtiss Co., 92; Manhattan 
Silver Plate Co., 91; Manning, Bowman 
and Co., 168 f., 182; Manning and Con- 
well's Shoe Store, 222; Max's Automotive 
Service, 126; Meriden Auto Station, 125; 
Meriden Bargain Store, 223; Meriden 
Bedding Co., 171; Meriden Braid Co. (suc- 
ceeded by Pioneer Braid Co.), 168-9; 
Meriden Brewing Co., 120; Meriden Bri- 
tannia Co., 79, 88 ff., 104 f., 120; Meri- 
den Bronze Co., 120; Meriden Buffing 



Co., 171; Meriden Curtain Fixture Co., 
168; Meriden Cutlery Co., 83, 120, 168 
f.; Meriden Electric Light Co., 170, 198; 
Meriden Electroplating and Finishing Co., 
171; Meriden Fire Arms Co., 168; Meriden 
Foundry Co., 171; Meriden Furniture Co., 
220; Meriden Gas Light Co., 90, 170, 198; 
Meriden Gravure Co., 92, 169; Meriden 
Jewelry Mfg. Co., 169; Meriden Lumber 
Co., 226; Meriden Machine and Tool Co., 
169; Meriden Malleable Iron Co., 174, 
181; Meriden Optical and Jewelry Co., 
169; Meriden Park Co., 119; Meriden 
Precision Screw Products, 171; Meriden 
Press and Drop Co. (successor to A. H. 
Merriman), 169; Meriden Record Co., 202, 
204; Meriden Rug Co. (now Perry Rug 
Co.), 170; Meriden Silver Plate Co., 91, 
174; Meriden Theater Co., 129 f.; Meri- 
den Title Finance Corp., 215; Meriden 
Welding Co., 171; Meriden Wireframe 
Co., 171; Mero Mfg. Co., 171; Metallic 
Potters Co., 171; Max Merklinger, 169; 
Merriam Metal Patterns and Model Works, 
169; Michaels Jewelers, 221; Middleton 
Plate Co., 91; Michaels-Maurer, 221; Mil- 
ler Bros. Cutlery Co. (Meriden Knife Co.), 
168 f. ; Edward Miller Co., 86, 120, 169, 
177-8, 188, 199; Miller-Johnson, Inc., 171; 
Miles Shoe Co., 222; Miner, Read and 
Tullock, 197; John F. Molloy, 221; Mono- 
watt Electric Corp., 171; C. F. Monroe 
Co., 120, 168 f.; Morehouse Bros., 168 f., 
171; Morse and Cook, 203; Mosher's Drug 
Store, 112; Muirson Label Co., 171; 
Napier Co. (formerly Napier-Bliss Co.), 
179-81; Nestle Lemur Co., 172; New De- 
parture Division, General Motors, 77, 126, 
151, 170, 175-7, 187, 195; New England 
Boot and Shoe House, 220; New Eng- 
land Pottery Co., 169; New England 
Westinghouse Co., 138, 169; New Mil- 
ford Electric Light Co., 198; New York 
Dress Goods Store, 220; J. J. Niland Co., 
169; T. Niland and Co., 120; Norwich 
Cutlery Co., 91; Nugent's Dress Shop, 
222; Nutmeg Press, 171; Elias Oefinger, 
169; O'Neil and Flynn, 220; Oregon Sil- 
ver Co., 171; Packer Machine Co., 171; 
W. J. Packer Mfg. Co., 171; Parker and 
Casper Co., 90 f.; C. and E. Parker Co., 
84; Charles Parker Co., 84 f., 169, 178-9, 
199, 227; Charles W. Parker (printer), 
171; N. W. Parks Co. (purchased C. E. 
Schunack Co.), 171;- Sanford Parmelee 
and Co., 82; Peerless Mfg. Co., 170; Pen- 
field Mfg. Co., 169; J. C. Penney Co., 
222; Perkins' Blacksmith Shop, 63; Perkins 
and Lines, 225; Perry Rug Co. (formerly 
Meriden Rug Co.), 170; James N. Phelps 
and Co., 205; Phillips Mfg. Co., 171; E. 
F. Powers Shoe Store, 222; Pratt, Ropes, 
Webb and Co., 83; Pratt and Whitney 
Aircraft Division, United Aircraft Corp., 
182; Howard Pratt and Co., 82; Julius 
Pratt and Co., 57, 82 f.; Price Pattern 
Shop, 171; Production Equipment Co., 
171; Puffe Tool and Die Co., 171; R. and 
H. Machine Shop, 171; H. E. Rain and 
Co., 170 f.; J. F. Raven Hardware Co., 
224; Reed-Holroyd Co., 220 f.; Reed 
House furnishing Co., 220; Remington 
Arms Co., 85; Remo Co., 170; Republican 
Publishing Co., 201 f.; Rich Display and 
Plastics, 171; Rockwell Silver Co., 170 f.; 
Rogers and Bro., 91, 174; Rogers Bros., 88 
ff., 173; Rogers Cutlery Co., 91; Rogers and 
Hamilton Co., 91; Rogers, Smith and Co., 
90 f. ; C. Rogers and Bros., 91; William 
Rogers Mfg., 91 f.; Rose Window Products, 
172; Rowley Mfg. Co., 91; Rubber Spe- 



304 



INDEX 



cialty Co., 171; Sales Service Institute, 
174; J. H. Sanderson, 170; Saviteer Me- 
morial Works, 170; J. Schaeffer Co., 171; 
M. B. Schenck Co., 169 f. ; Charles E. 
Schunack Co., 169 f.; John R. Sexton Co., 
171; Shaw Paper Box Co., 171; Henry E. 
Shiner Co., 171; Silver City Crystal Co., 
182; Silver City Glass Co., 169 f., 182; 
Silver City Plate Co., 91; Simpson, Hall, 
Miller and Co., 91 f.; Simpson Nickel Co., 
91; Sonora Record Co., 171; Southington 
Cutlery Co., 91; Stockwell's, 221; W. H. 
Squire Co., 215 f.; Standard Cutlery Co., 
171; Styletex Co., 219; L. Suzio Concrete 
Co., 225; L. Suzio Construction Co., 145, 
225; Hyman Tanger Co., 171; W. H. 
Thompson Candy Co., 170; Tillinghast 
Silver Co., 170 f.; Tishman interests, 222; 
Henry B. Todd, 170; Vincenzo Torchia, 
171; Tredennick Paint Mfg. Co., 170; Ira 
Twiss and Bro., 83; Universal Music Co., 
170; Upham's Department Store, 219; 
Vacuum Specialty Co., 170; Vocalion 
Organ Co., 170; F. J. Wallace, 169 f. ; 
F. L. Waller Co., 171; Waterbury Clock 
Co., 170; Watrous Mfg. Co., 91; Curtiss 
Way Co., 92; Lysander R. Webb and Co., 
205; Walter Webb and Co., 82 f.; Web- 
ster and Brigmann, 169 f.; E. G. Webster 
and Son, 91, 174; Western Union Tele- 
graph Co., 199; Westport Electric Light Co., 
198; F. J. Wheeler Co., 236; Frank 
Wheeler and Son, 169 f.; William Wheeler 
Co., 169 f; White, Bottrell and Page 
Co., 170; Frank M. Whiting Co., 171; 
Whitney and Rice, 179; Wilcox and Evert- 
sen Co., 91, 174; Wilcox Realty Co., 94, 
116; Wilcox Silver Plate Co., 86, 90 f.; 
Wilcox and White Organ Co., 91, 120, 
169 f. ; E. C. Wilcox Corp., 171; J. Wilcox 
and Co., 86; Wolf's New Process Abrasive 
Wheel, Inc., 170; Woman's Shop, 222; 
Woodbury Electric Light Co., 198; F. W. 
Woolworth Co., 222; Wusterbarth Bros., 
223; Yale Grocery Store, 224; Andrew 
Young and Sons, 170; Youngberg Bros., 
171 

Butcher, B. J., 270 

Butler, Albert, N., 119 

Butler, Comfort, 29, 49 

Butler, Eli, 71, 100, 208, 213 

Butler, Henry C, 208 

Butler, Hiram, 100 

Butler, Joel I., 209 f. 

Butler, John, 62, 82 

Butler, John F., 105, 220 

Butler, William K., 94 

Butler, William O., 220 

Buttner, Howard F., 210 

Byczynski, Joseph J., 191 

Byxbee, John, 100, 104 f., 213 

Byxbee, Theodore, 95 

Cabon, James, 49 

Cahill, C. W., Ill, 129 f. 

Cahill, Joseph, 191 

Cahill, William J., Jr., 130, 152, 159 

Caivano, Albert, 191 

Call, James C, 147 

Cambridge, Mass., 1, 36 

Camp, Amos, 16 

Camp, Elah, 212 

Camp, Frank A., 215 

Camp Glen Echo, 253 

Camp Hubbard, 231 

Campbell, Sherburne, 28 

Canary, Daniel J., 115 

Cannatelli, Vincent S., 191 

Cape Breton, 44 

Carabetta, Joseph, 234 

Carr, Clarence E., 219 

Carr, Steve, 136 



Carroll, Michael B„ 163, 183 

Carron, Mike, 133 

Carrozella, William J., 191 

Carter, Robert W., 115 

Caruso, Enrico, 132 

Casey, Edward, 147 

Cashen, Homer F., 147 

Cashen, John T., 191 

Castelow, Alderman, 144 

Cat Hole, 4, 19, 35, 150 

Cat Hole Mountain, 4 

Catholic University of America, 298 

Catholic war veterans' organizations: Mount 
Carmel Post No. 1053, 256; St. Joseph 
Post No. 1106, 256; St. Laurent Post No. 
1135, 256; St. Mary Post No. 1136, 256; 
St. Rose Post No. 1116, 256 

Catlin, Benjamin H., 212 f. 

Catlin, W. H., 228 

Cedar Creek, battle of, 96 

Centennial, 122-4, 168, 222, 237, 259, 301 

Ceppa, John L., 234, 271 

Chamberlain, Abiram, 78 f., 106, 115, 124, 
198, 208 

Chamberlain, Mrs. Abiram, 238 

Chancellorsville, battle of, 96 

Chapin, J. H., 239 

Chapman, E. A., 215 

Charles 11,5 

Chaya, Paul Carl, 191 

Cheeney, Charles H., 115, 126 

Cheshire, 6 f., 25, 31, 76, 82, 84, 106, 197, 
201, 208, 217, 233, 264, 271 

Cheshire Academy, 42 

Chester, Mr., 20 

Chester, Frank V., 224 

Church, Robert G., 157 

Church, Samuel O., 100 

Church, W. B., 214 

Church of England, 14 

Churches: All Saints' Episcopal, 267; Bap- 
tist, 12-13, 41, See also First Baptism- 
Center Congregational, 12, 15, 36, 41, 53, 
62, 213, 224, 262, f.; Congregational, 66, 
236; Episcopal, 13, see also St. Andrew's 
Church; Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel, 
268 f.; First Baptist, 12, 262 f., 265, 272; 
First Church of Christ Scientist, 271; First 
Congregational, 12, 70, 127, 239, 262; 
First Lutheran Church of Southington, 269; 
First Methodist, 154, 263, 267; First 
Methodist Episcopal, 15; First Universalist 
(St. Paul's), 154, 264 f.; Holy Angels' 
(South Meriden), 267, 298; Italian Bap- 
tist, 272; Kingdom Hall, 272; Liberty 
Street Baptist, 266; Main Street Baptist 
(West Meriden Baptist), 210, 265, 268, 
272; Methodist, 15; Methodist Preaching 
House, 264; Mt. Hebron Baptist, 272; Our 
Lady of Mt. Carmel, 270, 286, 297; Park 
Avenue Baptist (Swedish Baptist), 268; 
Parker African Methodist Episcopal Zion, 
268; St. Andrew's Episcopal, 14, 29, 105, 
154, 247, 262 f., 267; St. John's Episcopal 
(Yalesville), 267; St. John's Lutheran, 265, 
268, 295; St. Joseph's, 272, 297; St. 
Laurent's, 260, 266, 295; St. Mary's, 269- 
70, 295; St. Nicholas (Byzantine Rite 
Catholics), 272; Sts. Peter and Paul Rus- 
sian Orthodox Greek Catholic, 271, 299; 
St. Rose, 261 f., 264, 270, 296; St. Stan- 
islaus, 234, 270-1, 296-7; "Salt Box," 13; 
South Meriden Methodist, 264; Swedish 
Evangelical Lutheran (Augustana Luth- 
eran), 269; Temple B'Nai Abraham, 154, 
267; Trinity Methodist, 266, 270, 297 

Cianfarani, Aristide B., 145 

Ciasulli, Carl J., 191 

City Government, divisions of: Board of 
Apportionment and Taxation, 155, 160, 
285 f., 292; Board of Assessors, 160, 163; 



305 



INDEX 



Board of Building Commissioners, 160; 
Board of Education, 23, 154, 160, 189, 
280, 284, 285, 288 f., 292 f. ; Board of 
Electrical Examiners, 160; Board of Oil 
Burner Examiners, 160; Board of Plumb- 
ing and Heating Examiners, 160; Board 
of Public Safety, 160, 166; Board of 
Public Welfare, 160, 162 f.; Board of 
School Visitors, 274, Report of, 275; 
Board of Tax Review, 163; Building De- 
partment, 166, 300; Building Inspector, 
292; City Auditors, 163; City Clerk, 161; 
City Comptroller, 163; City Planning 
Commission, 160; City Treasurer, 163; 
Department of Health, 160, 161-2, 293; 
Engineering Department, 163; Fire De- 
partment, 164-6; Jury Commission, 160; 
Park and Recreation Commission, 160, 
227; Police Department, 163-4, 166, 
Records Division, 164; Police and Fire 
Signal Department, 164 f.; Post Office, 
235-7; Recreation Department, 231, 233; 
Water Department, 162; Welfare Commis- 
sion, 160, 162; Welfare Department, 290; 
Zoning Board of Appeals, 160, 163 

Civic committees and service organizations: 
Boy Scouts, 249, 252-3; Boys' Club, 203, 
249, 252, 299; Charity Club, 130; Child 
Welfare League, 288; Citizens Committee 
on Sub-Standard Housing, 160; City Mis- 
sion Society, 239; Civil Defense Council, 
160; Commission on the Care and Treat- 
ment of the Chronically III, Aged and 
Infirm, 245; Diocesan Bureau of Social 
Service, 249; Employers' Association, 255; 
Family Service Association, 249; Girl 
Scouts, 249, 253; Girls' Club, 249, 252; 
Investigation Committee on Comic Books, 
160; Junior Chamber of Commerce, 231, 
254-5; Junior ROTC, 286; Manufacturers' 
Association, 255; Merchants' Bureau, 254, 
301; Meriden Academical Association, 
277; Meriden Anti-Tuberculosis Associa- 
tion, 253; Meriden Board of Trade, 129, 
254; Meriden Business Men's Association, 
254; Meriden Chamber of Commerce, 129, 
156, 176, 183, 218, 254, 301; Meriden 
Historical Society, 13, 22 ff., 59, 70; Meri- 
den Housing Authority, 160, 162; Meriden 
Medical Society, 239; Meriden Planning 
Commission, 299; Meriden Teachers Asso- 
ciation, 149; Meriden Tuberculosis Relief 
Association, 253; Meriden War Council, 
140; Parent-Teacher Association, 292 f.; 
Parking Authority, 160; Public Celebra- 
tions Commission, 160; Public Health and 
Visiting Nurse Association, 249, 253-4, 
256; Public Utilities Commission, 75; Red 
Cross, 185, 187; Salvation Army, 249, 
254, 272; School Building Committee, 160, 
285, 291; Service clubs (Exchange Club, 
257; Kiwanis Club, 257; Lions Club, 230 
f., 233, 257; Rotary Club, 257; Soroptimist 
International, 257; Unison Club, 257; 
Zonta Club, 257); War Council, Volunteer 
Office, 190; War History Office, 190; 
Women's Christian Temperance Union, 
239, 251; Y.M.C.A., 187 ff., 249, 250-1; 
Young Men's Institute, 207, 250; Y.W.C.A., 
228, 249, 251-2; Young Woman's League, 
251 

Civil War, 67, 75, 85, 89, 93 ff., 219, 236, 
265 

Clark, George M., 210 

Clark, H. N., 254 

Clark, Lewis E., 212 

Clark, P. J., 213 

Clark, Robert W., 255 

Clark, William S., 149 

Clarke, Remick K., 84 

Clarke, Susan C, 49 



Clarksville, 82 

Cocoa Kid, 135 

Code of the City of Meriden, Connecticut, 

160 
Coe, Andrew J., 155 
Coe, Calvin, 24 
Coe, John W., Ill, 115 
Coe, Kate Foote, 258 
Coe, Levi E., 155, 210, 213, 239 
Coe, Mrs. Levi E., 258 
Coffey, Joseph F., 252 
Coggins, J. B., 87 
Coggins, Leslie, 87 
Cohen, David J., 241 
Cold Spring, 19 
Cole family, 1 1 
Collins, Aaron L., 86, 100 
Collins, Captain, 41 
Collins, Dan, 47 ff., 58 
Collins, Eddie, 134 
Collins, Edward, 29, 45, 49 
Collins, Jonathon, 21 
Collins, Joseph H., 147 
Collins, Robert T., 176 
Collins, Sally, 34 
Collins, Samuel, 49 
Collins, Sarah, 70 
Collins, Sarah E., 216 
Collins, William, 114 
Collins family, 1 1 
Columbian Exposition, 198 
Columbian Orator, 41 
Community Fund, 185, 240 
Cone, S. L., 86 
Congregational Society, 27 
Connecticut Agricultural Society, 119 
Connecticut Colony, 5 
Connecticut Co., 80, 112 
Connecticut Light and Power Co., 125, 149, 

196 ff. 
Connecticut Organ, 205 

Connecticut Public Expenditure Council, 294 
Connecticut Telephone and Electric Co., 181- 

2, 195, 199 
Connecticut Whig, 205 
Connors, J. J., 178 
Conroy, Michael J., 241 
Convent of St. Bridget, 297 
Cook, Isaac, 44 f., 47 
Cook, Isaac, Jr., 44 
Cook, Jared R., 100, 213 
Cook, Louis M., 191 
Cook, Marion, 247 
Cooke, Joseph A., 152 
Cooper, William J., 191 
Corradino, Louis J., 191 
Costello, Harry, 135 
Couch, John, 44, 46, 49, 58 
Court of Common Council, 155, 157, 161, 

163, 166, 175, 242, 292, 301 
Court of Common Pleas, 300 
Cowing, Frank L., 105 
Cowles, E. B., 198 
Cowles, Ebenezer, 49 
Cowles, Elisha A., 69, 209 
Cowles, Joel, 49 
Cowles, Major, 71 f. 
Cromwell, Conn., 76, 79. 116, 182, 197 
Crooker, Arthur H., 191 
Crow, C. Frederick, 177 
Culbert, "Goodman," 10 
Culver, Joshua, 30 
Cummings, G. R., 226 
Cummings, George R. (son of G. R.), 226 
Cuno, Charles F., 179 
Cuno, Charles H., 179, 226, 255 
Cuno Foundation, 24 
Curran, Jerome F., 191 
Curry, John J., 176 
Curtis, A. Morse, Jr., 191 
Curtis, Abel, 47, 49 



306 



INDEX 



Curtis, Amasa, 62 

Curtis, Arthur M., 115 

Curtis, Asahel, 22, 59, 100, 213 

Curtis, Augusta Munson, 91, 246 

Curtis, Benjamin, 25 f., 44 

Curtis, E. D., 253 

Curtis, Edwin E., 26, 86 

Curtis, Elisha, 49 

Curtis, Enos, 86 

Curtis, Floyd, 211 

Curtis, George M., 59, 61, 90 f. 

Curtis, George Munson, and Gillespie, C. 

Bancroft, A Century of Meriden, 21, 31, 

46, 62, 95, 123, 279, 281 
Curtis, George R., 22, 78 f., 86, 89 f., 152, 

214, 239, 246 
Curtis, Homer, 67 
Curtis, Mrs. James A., 254 
Curtis, Jesse M., 147 

Curtis, Lemuel J., 86, 88, 100, 247 

Curtis, MacRae, 178 f. 

Curtis, Moses, 44 

Curtis, Nathaniel, 26 

Curtis family, 82 

Curtis Memorial Library, 91, 100, 154, 160, 

246-7 
Curtiss, Asha H., 236 
Curtiss, Edwin E., 212 f. 
Curtiss, Enos H., 212 f. 
Curtiss, John, 92 
Cushing, Charles E., 191 
Customs, 50 ff. 
Cyphers, Joseph G., 147 
Daboll's "arithmetic," 40 
Dahlke, Henry A., 191 
Daily News, 206 
Daily Republican, 104 
D'Amico, Lorenzo, 147 
Danaher, Cornelius J., Sr., 116, 134, 228 f. 
Danaher, Francis R., 101, 109, 134, 152, 158, 

166 f., 183, 187 f., 241 
Danaher, John A., 134 
Danbury, 48 
Danielson, Irving, 234 
D'auria, Ronaldo F., 191 
Davenport, Fanny, 128 
Davenport, John, 2 f., 6 
Davis, C. H. S., History of Wallingford, 

Meriden and Cheshire, 3, 6, 19, 97, 152, 

215, 239 
Davis, Jefferson, 94 
Davis, Wilbur F., 155 
Day, John F., 126 
Daybill, Mark, 191 

De la Vergne, Paul Mason, 245 

Dearborn, John H., 191 

DeBussy, Wales L., 144, 152 

De Cantilion, Joseph, 140 

Deep River, 223 

Deforest (expert on Conn. Indians), 6 

Delavan, Marcus L., 205 

Delavan, Thomas, 127 

Delavan, Mrs. Thomas, 127 ff. 

Delesdernier, H. W., 239 

DeLuca, William, 147 

Dennie, John, 21 

Derecktor, Esidor, 130 

Derecktor, Nathan, 130 

Derecktor, Samuel, 130 

De Sandre, Antonio, 147 

Deshon, Corinne A., 246 

Deshon, Giles H., 263 

DeVoe, Eddie, 133 

Dibble, Donald, 193 

Dibble, William, 188 

Dickenson, Charles, 78 

DiFrancesco, John, 177 

Dilworth, Spelling Book and Schoolmaster's 

Assistant, 38 
Dlugolenski, Anthony, 191 
Doak, James H., 198 



Dodd, Samuel, 90 f. 

Doherty, John E., 235 

Donovan, Daniel J., 142, 144, 152 

Donovan, Derrick, 193 

Doolittle, Edgar J., 104, 152, 209, 239, 257 

Doolittle, Horace F., 144 

Doran, John J., 147 

Dossin, Oscar, 233 

Douglas, Nathaniel, 49 

Douglas, Stephen, 93 

Douksza, Walter J., 191 

Dowd, Richard, 235 

Dowling, Eddie, 133 

Dowling, Frank R., 191 

Dowling, Robert M., 157 

Drucquer, Harry, 165 

Dryhurst, Henry, 62, 236 

Duggan, Jeremiah T., 270 

Dunham, Bill, 133 

Dunn, Judge, 34 

Dunne, Thomas P., 157 

Dupont, Lorenzo, Jr., 193 

Dupuis, George E., 191 

Durante, Jimmie, 187 

Dutton, Dudley A., 211 

Dutton, Guy, 224 

Dworak, Frank, 147 

East Cemetery, 15 

East Haven, 6 ff., 48 

East Meriden, 86 

Eaton, Theophilus, 3, 6 

Eddy, Julianne, 41 

Edge, William F., 263 

Edison, Thomas A., 198 

Edwards, Clarence, 146 

Edwards, Fred H., 162 

Edwards, George C, 91 

Edwards, Jonathan, 63 

Edwards, Joseph, 49 

Eggleston, Arthur F., 225 

Eggleston, J. D., 239 

Elting, Richard, 267 

Englehart, Adam, 125 

Englehart, Leon J., 125 

Erickson, John, 234 

Etter, Bessie, 240 

Evarts, L. C, 115 

Evening Monitor, 206 

Evening Press, 206 

Evening Recorder, 206 

Everard, Edward, 234 

Everitt, E. B., 94, 213 

Fagan, Lois Z., 179 

Fagan, Paul F., 149 

Falcon Athletic Association, 261 

Folk, Manfred R., 191 

Falls Plains, 20 

Faricelli, Herman B., 191 

Farmington, 8 

Farrington, Jeremiah, 49 

Feegal, John R., 139, 183 

Felix, Joseph H., 147 

Felix, Lois, 135 

Fellowcraft Minstrels, 130 

Fenn, A. H„ 239 

Ferraro, Joseph, 147 

Ferrigno, Joseph R., 235 

Ficken, Alderman, 144 

Fielding, Henry, 53 

Fielding, John F., 147 

Fillmore, Millard, 236 

Financial institutions: City Savings Bank, 
207, 210 f., 213-14; Connecticut Bank and 
Trust Co., 207, 209-11, 214, 236; Connect- 
icut Bankers' Association, 124; First Fed- 
eral Savings and Loan Association, 207, 
216-17; First National Bank, 209 ff.; 
Fourth Meriden Building and Loan Asso- 
ciation, 216 f.; Hartford-Connecticut Trust 
Co., 209 ff.; Home National Bank and 
Trust Co., 90, 115, 127, 207-9; Home 



307 



INDEX 



Owners' Loan Corporation, 149; Meriden 
National Bank, 209 f.; Meriden Perma- 
nent Savings and Loan Association, 207, 
215-16; Meriden Savings Bank, 204, 207, 
212-13; Meriden Trust and Safe Deposit 
Co., 207, 210 f., 214-15; Phoenix State 
Bank and Trust Co., 209; Puritan Bank 
and Trust Co., 204, 207, 211-12; Savings 
and Loan Institute, 295 

First Congregational Society, 11, 127 

First Universalist Society, 28 

Fiske, John, 2, 5, 7 

Fitzgerald, E. A., 197 

Fitzgibbons, Thomas M., Jr., 191 

Fitzpatrick, James J., 236 

Fitzpatrick, Jimmie, 136 

Fitzpatrick, William H., 177 

Flagg, Charles N., 149, 226 

Flagg, Mrs. Charles N., 26 

Flagg, Peter, 226 

Flagg family, 26 

Flynn, C. E., 220 

Flynn, Harold H., 163 

Ford, Roger M., 102 f. 

Ford, Sanborn, 49 

Fort Sumter, 94 

Fort Ticonderoga campaign, 44, 47 

Foster, Albert, 87 

Foster, Charlotte, 161 

Foster, Giles, 49 

Foster, H. M., 71 

Foster, Homer, 161 

Foster, Matthew, 161 

Foster, Ozias, 49 

Foster, Thomas, 49 

Foster, Timothy, 49 

Foster family, 11 

Fowler, Irving M., 223 

Fowler, Robert W., 191 

Fox, C. F., 212 

Francis Moloney Scholarship Committee, 160 

Frary, James A., 86, 88, 208 

Frary, James D., 90 

Fraryville. See North Meriden 

Fraser, Lawrence, 234 

Fraternal and social organizations: Benevo- 
lent and Protective Order of Elks, Meri- 
den Lodge No. 35, 259-60; Connecticut 
Federation of Cyclists, 114; Connecticut 
Fifers' and Drummers' Association, 124; 
Daughters of the American Revolution, 
49; Falcon Nest 68, 261; Fraternal Order 
of Eagles, 261; German-American Society, 
113; German Baptist Society, 266; High- 
land Country Club, 116; Home Club, 124, 
258-9; Knights of Columbus, Silver City 
Council No. 2, 260; League of American 
Wheelman, 114; Loyal Order of Moose, 
261; Masonic lodges (Center Lodge No. 
97, 260; Hamilton Council No. 22, 260; 
Keystone Chapter No. 27, 260; Meridian 
Lodge No. 77, 260; St. Elmo Commandery, 
No. 9, 260); Meriden Golf Club, 116; 
Meriden Lawn Tennis Club, 115; Meriden 
Light Guards, 95; Meriden Wheel Club, 
114; Meriden Woman's Club, 252; Polish 
Knights of the Blessed Virgin, 288; Put- 
nam Phalanx of Hartford, 124; Turner 
Society, 259. See also Women's auxiliaries 

Fredericksburg, battle of, 96 

Freeman, Chatham, 27, 47, 49 

Frost, Wilma M., 244 

Fulton, Robert, 37 

Furniss, Albert, 215 

Gaffey, Francis E., 191 

Galvin, William, 239 

Gardinor, Clifford R., 157, 172, 255 

Gardner, Warren F., 203 

Gardner, William E., 265 

Gordon, Carl A., 191 

Gartland, J. L., 239 



Garvey, Eddie, 133 

Garvey, Patrick, 100 

Gates, General, 47 

Gearing, Charles M., 175 

Gearing, Milton L., 176, 255 

Gearing, Raymond W., 191 

Geary, H. S., 198 

Gerschefski, Fred J., 147 

Gervais, Robert J., 193 

Gettysburg, battle of, 96 

Gibbons, George, 205 

Gibbs, David, 287 

Gibney, Hugh R., Jr., 191 

Gibson, Cole B., 244 f. 

Gibson, Wilber W., 211 

Gigli, 132 

Gilbert, Jonathan, 4, 18 f. 

Gilmartin, John, 126 

Gilmartin, John, Jr., 126 

Giuffrida, Francis, 241 

Giuffrida, Rolando, 272 

Gladwin, Russell S., 152 

Glaser, S. F., 266 

Gleason, Lawrence, 191 

Glock, Charles C, 211 

Goffe, Solomon, 21 

Gold, Herman, 220 

Goldsmith, David, 147 

Gompers, Samuel, 194 

Goodrich, Charles A., Stories on the History 
of Connecticut; Designed for the Instruc- 
tion and Amusement of Young Persons, 
20 

Goodsell, Buell, 115 

Gorman, Joseph L., 147 

Gracey, Burton A., 193 

Gracey, Howard T., 191 

Graffam, E. W., 254 

Graham, William F., 201 f., 205 f. 

Granby, 65 

Grant, U. S., 98, 236 

Gravel, Joseph C. M., 193 

Grawemeyer, L. Melvin, 177 

Greely, Emily, 253 

Greenbacker, Joseph A., 157 

Greene, General, 46 

Gregory, Robert, 191 

Grieco, Michael J., Jr., 191 

Griffin, Joseph M., 261, 264 

Grinold, Robert W., 191 

Grinold, William H., 255 

Griswold, Ashbil, 82, 85 f., 212, 209 

Griswold, F. P., 239 

Griswold, Giles, 49 

Griswold, Henry, 82 

Griswold, M. F., 257 

Gross, Louis J., 223 

Gross, Oscar, 223 

Gross, Samuel, 223 

Gudain, Leonard, 165 

Gudebrod, Louis, 94 

Guilford, 2, 176 

Guy, Joel H., 62, 100, 209, 211 ff., 235 f. 

Guy, Orchard, 29 

Hadley, Joseph A., 198 

Hagadon, William, 103, 164 

Hagedorn, George A., 269 

Haggerty, Dennis, 132 

Haggerty, Jack, 132 

Halbert, Jessie, 254 

Hale, Nathan, 147 

Hale, William, 73 

Hall, Abraham, 44 

Hall, Almon, 28 

Hall, Arthur E., 115 

Hall, Benjamin, 19, 28 

Hall, Brenton, 49 

Hall, Daniel, 3, 11, 49 

Hall, David, 30, 49 

Hall, "Deken," 10 

Hall, Edward B., 109 



308 



INDEX 



Hall, Enos, 49 

Hall, Erwin D., 236 

Hall, Eugene A., 213 

Hall, Fanny, 28 

Hall, George L, 155 

Hall, Harold C, 166-7 

Hall, Hiram, 235 f. 

Hall, Howard B., 157 

Hall, Isaac, 28, 45 f., 49 

Hall, Isaac, Jr., 46, 49 

Hall, Israel, 28, 49 

Hall, Joel, 49 

Hall, Jonathan, 46, 49 

Hall, Jotham, 49 

Hall, Joseph E„ 147 

Hall, Lon, 236 

Hall, Moses, 46 

Hall, Moses, Jr., 49 

Hall, Phineas, 28, 49 

Hall, Rufus, 49 

Hall, Russell, 28 

Hall, Samuel, 45, 49 

Hall, Seth J., 155, 239 

Hall, Theophilus, 12, 16,52 

Hail, Wilbur B., 120 

Hall, William F., 236 

Hallbach, Robert H., 163 

Hallmere Reservoir, 101 

Halls Family, 11 

Halstein, Robert, 191 

Hamden, 6 

Hamilton, Alexander, 2 

Hamilton, C. A., 91 

Hamilton, Lorenzo, 144, 257 

Hamrah, Charles, 220 

Handel, William F., 255 

Hanover, 20, 25, 82 f. 

Hanover Dam, 150 

Hanson, Harry S., 183, 253 

Harlow, Dana, Jr., 191 

Harrison, William Henry, 235 

Hart, Benjamin, 25, 49 

Hartford, ff., 3, 20, 31, ff., 35 f., 42 f., 
69, 72, 88 f., 92, 106, 124, 134, 280 

Hartford Courant, 8 

Hastings, F. N., 126 

Havell, Wayne G., 191 

Hawkins, Marion, 258 

Hayden, Harry, 209 

Hayek, Charles J., Jr., 224 

Hayes, Rutherford B., 236 

Hedgpeth, T. Valmonte, 200 

Heidel, Marion P., 26 

Hess, Herman, 210 

Hicks, F. H., 272 

Hicks, Ratcliff, 213 

Higbee or Higby, Edward, 4, 30 

Higgins, David, 157 

Higginson, Leroy C, 147 

Highland, 77 

Hiker Memorial, 109 

Hillard, James L, 247 

Hiller, William G., 109 

Hinman, Charles L, 215 

Hinman, Franklin E., 205 

Hinsdale, Charles, 52 

Hitchcock, Nelson, 147 

Hofmeister, Donald A., 191 

Holman, John, 183 

Holmes, Harold, 188 

Holmes, John, 37 

Holt, I. L, 199 

Hooker, Thomas, ff., 3 

Hooker, William G., 215 

Hookerites, 3, 5 

Horan, Owen, 105 

Horton, August W., 191 

Hospitals: Meriden Hospital, 189, 238-41, 
249; Undercliff Hospital (Undercliff Sana- 
torium), 244-5, 253; World War II Vet- 
erans' Memorial Hospital, 158 ff., 241-3, 



Association, 242 f . 
Hotchkiss, Fred, 228 
Hough, Daniel, 26, 44 
Hough, Ensign, 26 
Hough, Insign, 45, 60 
Hough, Isaac, 53, 71, 72 
Hough, Isaac I., 36 
Hough, James, 43, 49 
Hough, John, 45, 47, ff. 
Hough, Phineas, 49 
Hough, Samuel, 43 
Hough, William, 25 
Hough, Warren, 191 
Houston, Howard E., 94, 152, 158, 244 
Howe, George E., 245 
Howell, George M., 155 
Hubbard, Herman E.. 209, 212 
Hubbard, Walter, 100, 214, 227, f., 232, 239 
Hughart, W. Oden, 255 
Hughes, O. J. D., 239 
Hugo, O. C, 179 
Hull, S. A., 201 
Hutchinson, W. F., 115 
Hyatt, Isaac B., 105, 223 
Hyatt, Willard C, 223 
Hyde, Joseph, 1l4 
Immick, Hollis D., 254 
Independent, 206 
Indians, 6 ff. 

Industry, 81 ff.; since 1900, 168 ff. 
Investment Forum, 295 
Isbell, Harlow. 67 
Israel, Harry, 223 
Israel, William, 223 
Ives, Almerson, 235 
Ives, Amos, 49, 152, 155 
Ives, Bezaleel, 16, 47, 49 
Ives, Eli, 100 
Ives, Gideon, 46, 49 
Ives, John, 49, 72, 219, 236 
Ives, Lazarus, 26 
Ives, Leland, 6 
Ives, P. T., 143 
Ives, Rollin S., 28 
Ives, Timothy, 49 
Ives, William J., 100 
Ives Familv, 1 1 
Iwanicki, Stanislaus, 261 
Jackson, Andrew, 36, 62, 235 
Jackson, Charles W., 147 
Jackson, Ira W., 127 f. 
Jacobs, William, 167 
Jacques, Jean, 127 
Janes, Daniel, 49 
Januschak, 128 
Jefferson, Joseph, 128 
Jefferson, Thomas, 2, 235 
Jehovah's Witnesses, 272 
Jepson, Louise J., 221 
Jerome, Chauncey, 83 
Jobin, Harold, 191 
Johnson, Andrew, 236 
Johnson, Dan, 64 
Johnson, Foster M., 157 ff. 
Johnson, Israel, 24, 49 
Johnson, Samuel, 49 
Johnson, Sherman G., 123 
Johnson, Wesley M., 213 
Jones, Delbert, 108 
Jopson, H. Raymond, 147 
Jordan, C. T., 178 
Jourdan, Albert S., 198 
Journal Press, 92 
Joyce, Thomas, 223 
Kaczynski, Adam, 147 
Kafka, George J., 191 
Kalinowski, Anthony, 147 
Kaminsky, Walter W., 191 
Kantack, Frederick H., 147 
Kapitzke, William, 191 
Kaplan, Louis "Kid," 135 f. 



309 



INDEX 



Kasack, Bernard D., 254 

Kassabian, Levon, 229 

Katz, Max, 126 

Kay, Frank E., 225, 260 

Kay, James T., 225 

Keeler, Reverend Mr., 41 

Keeney, Raymond, 108 

Kelly, John J., 270 

Kelly, Norman P., 191 

Kelly, William P., 281 f. 

Kelsey, William A., 201 f., 212 

Kenmere Reservoir, 101 

Kennedy and Kramer (dance team), 132 

Kennedy, James, 132-3 

Kensington parish, 33 

Kent, 8 

Kent, Carl T., 200 

Kenwood Camp, 150 

Ketelhut, Henry L, 214 

Ketelhut, Otto C, 147 

Keys' Brigade, 95 

Kichinko, Peter P., 272 

Kidder, Robert S., 183, 191 

Kilbourn, Samuel, 44 

Killeen, James C, 147 

King, C. Win, 114 

King, Francis, 209 

King, Henry T., 114, 141, 143, 152, 159, 
211 

King, Jesse M., 147 

King Philip's War, 8, 43 

King, Ray E., 211 

Kirby, Ernest, 190 

Kirby, John B., 25 

Kline, Edward J., 147 

Kneath, H. E., 212 

Knell, David M., 191 

Koczon, Edward J., 191 

Kolek, John, 191 

Konopka, Frank P., 191 

Koozmitch, Walter, 191 

Kopcza, Walter J., 224 

Korean War, 193 ff. 

Kounaris, Nick, 132 

Kowalski, Joseph, 147 

Kramer, Danny, 135 

Kroeber, Robert, Jr., 191 

Kroll, Alfred, 179 

Kromer, John S., 263 
Kruth, Hugo W., 147 
Kurcon, Walter L, 164 
Kuta, Matthew P., 163 

Labor organizations: American Federation 
of Labor, 194 f.; Central Labor Union, 
194 f., 244; Connecticut Federation of 
Labor, 194; Council of Industrial Organi- 
zations, 195; Electrical Workers Union, 
195; International Typographical Union, 
206; Knights of Labor: Buffers and Pol- 
ishers Assembly, 194; Mechanics Assembly 
No. 2501, 194; United Auto Workers, 
local 987, 195 
LaCroix, Henry E., 147 
Landry, Henry C, 191 
Lane, Arthur S., 209 
Lane, John S., 225 
Lane, John W., 114 
Longer, Carl R., 225 
Langner, A., 223 
LaPierre Manufacturing Co., 174 
LaPlace, S. R., 223 
LaRochelle, Ernest A., 147 
LaRo;a, John R., 191 
Lawrence, Silas, 37 
Lawton, Burton L., 181, 210 
Learmont, Everett E., 147 
Learned, Charles A., 198 
Lebo, Howard, 191 
Leconte, Robert, 142 
Ledyard, 8 
Lee, Robert E., 98 



Lee, W. W., 257 
Leining, Warren H., 193 
Lepack, Walter, 191 
Levit Family, 11 
Lewis, George F., 221 
Lewis, H. J., 91 

Le T52 ilTf C " 22 ' 62 ' ^ 88 *•' 95, 10 °' 

Lewis, Jared, 100 

Lewis, Patrick, 62, 84, 235 

Lewis, R. W., 205 

Lewis, William, 213 

L'Heureux, Robert, 206 

Liber, Benjamin L., 191 

Library Board, 160 

Liebreich, Oscar, 177 

Lillement, 113 

Lincoln, Abraham, 93 f, 236 

Lines, H. Wales, 152, 225, 257, 260 

Linsley, Charles F., 72, 198, 201, 214 

Linsley, Noah, 236 

Linsley, Randolph, 213 

Lirot, Albert J., 215 

Little, Hubert, 223 

Livingston, Isaac, 49 

Lizzi, James V., 147 

Lockwood, H. DeForest, 140 

Lodge, John D., 158, 244 

Logan, J. W., 115 

Logoyke, Alexander, 191 

Long Island, battle of, 46 

Longstreet, General, 96 

Looby, Maurice J., 235 

Lord, Albert J., 262 

Louisburg expedition (1745), 44 

Louisi, Michael, 147 

Luby, William J., 157 

Luca, Ernest, 191 

Lucas, William L., 105 

Lucchini, Victor E., 24, 157 

Ludlow, Roger, 5 

Ludsier, Lionel J., 191 

Lutz, August, 266 

Lyddy, Walter J., 270 

Lyman, Aaron, 44 

Lyman, Harry W., 157 

Lyman, Phineas, 49 

Lyman, William W., 86, 88 

Lynch, John T., 270 

Lynch, Raymond M., 224 

Lynch, William, 224 

Lynes, Robert E., 191 

Lyon, George W., 100, 226, 26 

Lyon, Humphrey, 95 

Mabbett, J. H., 206 

MacArthur, Douglas, 193 

Mack (McGillicuddy), Connie, 134 

Mackensie, Mrs. William, 33 

Macri, George S., 191 

Madona, Joseph Paul, 191 

Magrath, George, 295 

Maine, sinking of, 108 

Majewicz, Joseph, 191 

Maletta, Anthony, 191 

Malm, John J., 192 

Malone, Henrietta, 41 

Malone, Nestor, J., 192 

Malone, William F., 192 

Moloney, Francis T., 134, 146, 148 f., 152, 

166 f. 
Moloney Memorial Scholarship, 166-7 
Maltby, Chapman, 92 
Money, Francis R., 192 
Manning, Thaddeus, 182 
Markham, Augustus C, 100 
Marvin, E. Lyman, 224 
Mason, John, 271 
Mason, John F., 192 
Masonic Temple Foundation, 260 
Massachusetts Bay Colony, 5 
Mather, Albert B., 115, 279 



310 



INDEX 



Mathieu, Edward A., 266 

Mattabesitt Tribe, 6, 8 f. 

May, Albert A., 254 

May, Earl C, Century of Silver, 34 

McCafferty, LeRoi, 133 

McCarthy, Edward T., 147 

McCarthy, Oliver, 215 

McCarthy, Paul E., 192 

McConnel, Murray, 179 

McCrann, Walter A., 268 

McGar, Frank H., 139 

McGar, Stanley, 221 

McGarry, Thomas B., 270 

McGlew, John T., 195 

McHugh, J. A., 120 

Mclnnis, Stuffy, 134 

McKenzie, George C, 147 

McKenzie, William T., 212 

McKinley, William, 108 

McLaughlin, Roy L, 245 f. 

McMahon, Dennis, 136 

McMahon, Patrick F., 130 

McMasters, Wells, 114 

McNulty, Catherine F., 253 

McNutt, Paul V., 186 f. 

Mederick, Marchand, 171 

Meeks, Arthur, 125 

Meeks, H. A., 239 

Meeting House Hill Burying Ground, 258 

Meeting houses, 10 ff. 

Meiklem, Irving J., 215 

Meiklem, Leonard F., 147 

Meiklem, Wesley J., 192 

Mekye, Daniel, 49 

Mekye, Wyllys, 49 

Memorial Boulevard, 143 ff., 266 

Memorial Chapel, 241, 243 

Mercaldi, Anthony P., 224 

Mercaldi, Anthony P., Jr., 224 

Meredith, (State Education Commissioner), 
286 

Meriden, Conn.: incorporation, 1; origin, 4, 
11; early spellings of name, 4;origin of 
name, 18; number of early families, 30; 
separation from Wallingford, 58 ff.; first 
town meeting, 59; postmasters, 62; first 
town clerk, 62; first mayor, 84; city gov- 
ernment before 1900, 99 ff.; first chief of 
police, 103; first chief of fire depart- 
ment, 105; succession of mayors, 152; 
population, 154; government, 152 ff.; 
designation as nation's ideal war com- 
munity, 185-7; first postmaster, 235 

Meriden "All Stars," 137 

Meriden Banner, 94, 205 

Meriden Chronicle, 205 

Meriden City Band, 231 

Meriden Community Fund, 249-50 

Meriden Evening Times, 206 

Meriden Journal, 117 f., 187, 201 ff., 203-4 

Meriden Lions Welfare Project, Inc., 231 

Meriden Literary Recorder, 104, 205 f. 

Meriden Morning Record, 202 

Meriden News-Digest, 206 

Meriden Record, 187, 190, 201-3. 

Meriden Record-Journal, 133, 193, 206 

Meriden Republican, 201, 203, 205 

Meriden Resolutes, 117 

"Meriden Riot," 66, 68 

Meriden Star, 206 

Meriden Theater, 127 ff. 

Meriden Theater (South Broad Street), 132 

Meriden Transcript, 205 

Meriden Visitor, 205 

Meriden Warwickshire, England, 18 

Meriden Weekly Mercury, 205 

Meriden's Centennial Celebration, 123 

Merimere, 64 

Merimere Reservoir, 101, 229 

Merriam, Amasa, 49 

Merriam, Asaph, 49 



Merriam, Benjamin, 49 

Merriam, Caleb, 49 

Merriam, Dorrance, 192 

Merriam, E. A., 155 

Merriam, Elisha, 49 

Merriam, Ephriam, 49 

Merriam, Jesse, 49 

Merriam, Joseph, 49 

Merriam, Lauren, 82 

Merriam, Marshall, 49 

Merriam, N., 71 

Merriam, Nathaniel, 29, 49 

Merriam, Nelson, 71 

Merriam, Samuel, 49 

Merriam, Sidney, 21 

Merriam, Titus, 49 

Merriam, William, 49 

Merriam Family, 11 

Merriman, George C, 257 

Merriman, Howell, 208, 212 

Merz, Harold F., 210 f. 

Mesiak, Stanley, 147 

Meskell, Pat, 137 

Methodist Society, 15, 262 

Metropolitan Opera Co., 121, 132 

Mezzanotte, Nicholas, 147 

Michaels, A., 221 

Michalich, Vladimer, 272 

Middletown, 6, 73, 77, 80, 87, 116, 182, 197, 

220 
Miles, John, 49 
Miles, W. M., 215 
Miles, Wallace A., 152 
Miller, D. Henry, 95 
Miller, Edward, 86 f. 
Miller, Freddie, 133 
Miller, Glenn, 187 
Miller, Hezekiah, 86 
Miller, John F., 125 
Miller, Lew, 216 
Miller, Max E., 114 
Miller, Ray Marcus, 263 
Miller, Richard, 27 
Miller, Spencer H., 183 
Miller, William H., 213, 215, 236 
Millington, Henry J., 177 
Mills, Fred, 216 
Mills, H. Dudley, 216 f. 
Mills, Herbert, 212 

Mills, Lewis S., Story of Connecticut, 34, 36 
Mills, Stanley, 216 
Milton brothers, 132 
Mines, 64 ff. 
Mingrino, Paul, 192 
Miramont, Wallace, 21 
Mitchell, Albert, 171 
Mix, Silas, 209 
Modjeska, 128 
Mohawk Tribe, 7 
Molloy, John, 26 
Molloy, John F., 221 
Molon, Michael, 192 
Monroe, F. H., 239 
Monson, Samuel, 17 
Montowese, 4, 6 
Moran, John L., 195 
Moran, William, 200 
Morelli, Joseph, 192 
Morgan, John, 49 
Morgan, Samuel B., 236 
Moriarty, Eugene A., 267 
Morning Call, 206 
Moroney, John F., 183 
Moroney, Thomas J., 163 
Morse, H. W., 212 
Moscaletis, Sylvester, 212 
Moseley, Nicholas, 288 f. 
Moses, Linus, 105 
Mosher, W. W., 215 
Mottram, Warren L., 241 
Moyer, Donald W., 192 



311 



INDEX 



Mrozek, Joseph, 147 

Mueller, George W., 147 

Munson, Craig D., 172 f. 

Munson, George D., 91 f., 172 

Munson, John, 88 

Murden, William E., 176 

Murdock, Daniel E., 147 

Murdock, Frederick L, 125, 211 

Murdock, George B., 155 

Muzyczka, Benjamin, 192 

Nagel, John G., 213, 253 

Nalewajek, Walter, 147 

Nalewajk, Stanislaus, F., 271 

Napier, James H., 180 

Narragansett Tribe, 43 

National Guard, 124, 138 ff., 183 

National Preceptor, 41 

Neebe, Frederick, L, 195 

Negro, Boston, 49 

Neibour, William H., 215 

Nellis, Charles, Jr., 133 

Nessing, Julius A., 192 

New Britain, 77, 132 

New Dam, 102 

New England Primer, 38, 52 

New England Testament, 39 

New Haven, 4, 31 f., 34 ff., 42, 48, 66, 69, 
72, 77, 94, 109, 129, 135, 139, 198, 200, 
204, 246, 254, 280 

New Haven Colony, 2 f., 5 

New Haven, "republic" of, 2 

New London, 44 

New Town, See Cambridge, Mass. 

New York City, 35 

Newport, E. C, 239 

Newspapers. 201 ff. 

Newton, Charles A., 183, 254 

Niantic, 77, 108 

Nickerson, N., 239 

Niewiadomski, Stanley J., 192 

Nitsche, Arthur, 192 

Nizza, Lawrence C, 8 

Noon, Edward, 177 

North, Curtis L., 212 

North Haven, 6 

North Meriden, 86 

North Stonington, 8 

Northern Literary Messenger, 205 

Norton, J. S., 127 

Norton, Jedediah, 22 

Norton, Junius, 209 

Norwich, 44 

Notre Dame Sisters, 295 

Nurawski, Stanley, 147 

Oblivantseff, Seraphim, 271 

O'Brien, Charles L., 162 

O'Brien, Frank J., Jr., 193 

O'Brien, Russell P., 192 

O'Connell, Maurice, 192 

O'Conner, James J., 184 

O'Donnell, William L., 147 

Old Bethel, 15 

"Old Fry," 33 

Old houses, 21 ff. 

O'Neil, F. J., 220 

Orange, 6 

Orr, Douglas, 242 

Orzech, Stanley, 192 

Otis, Albert I., 103 

Otis, S., 239 

Otto, Henry C. L., 206 

Owsianik, Joseph F., 193 

Packer, Clifford I., 188, 255 

Page, Benjamin, 152, 215 

Palmer, Charles S., 143 

Paluconis, Dominic, 192 

Pancho Villa, 138 

Panciera, Arthur, 192 

Paone, Raphael, 147 

Parker, Charles, 15, 57, 84, 86, 95 f, 99 f, 

102 f., 152, 201, 212, 214, 239, 268 



Parker, J. H., 90 

Parker, John, 95 

Parker, Julius, 19 

Parker, Wilbur F., 125 

Parker's Engine Co. No. 3, 104 

Parker's Hose Co. No. 3, 104 

Parks and playgrounds, 277 ff. 

Parochial School Music Festival, 296 

Parrish, Everett, 192 

Patrucco, John, 234 

Patten, Harold K., 147 

Patzold, H. L., 125 

Payne, Ruth E., 161 

Peck, G. A., 239 

Peck, S. S., 257 

Peeck, Eliezer, 30 

Penders, John G., 236 

Penny Press, 206 

Pepper, E. G., 215 

Pequot Tribe, 7, 66 

Pequot War, 8, 43 

Perkins, Charles S., 127, 209 

Perkins, George W., Historical Sketches of 
Meriden, 15, 18, 30, 32, 51, 61, 63 f 
67, 81 

Perkins, Herbert T., 192 

Perkins, Simeon, 45, 49 

Perkins, Stephen, 49 

Perkins, W. H., 86 

Pershing, John J., 138 

Peterson, Herbert R., 268 

Petrucelli, Leonard A., 164 f. 

Phelan, J. Ormonde, 295 

Phelan, John J., 254 

Phelps, Charles G., 255 

Phelps, Charles S., 225 

Philadelphia, 36 

Pierce, E. W., 115, 239 

Pierce, Franklin, 236 

Pierce, John, 46, 49 

Pinkos, Theodore J., 192 

Piace names, 18 ff. 

Plainville, 77 

Piatt, James P., 115 

Piatt, Orville H., 95 f., 98, 205, 252 

Ploetz, A., 239 

Plum, Seth D., 63 

Plumb, William W., 29 

Plymouth Colony, 5 

Podgurski, John, 192 

Pogrebniak, Alexander, 271 

Pohl, Irving C, 192 

Poli, S. Z., 129 ff. 

Polk, James K., 62, 235 

Pomeroy, Noah, 19, 28, 82, 209 

Ponselle, Carmela, 132 

Ponselle, Rosa, 121, 132 

Pooley, E. J., 114 

Port Royal, expedition to, 96 

Post, Edwin M., 91 

Post, John D., 41 

Potrepka, Bernadine S., 224 

Potts, John, 133 

Powers, Charles C, 215 

Powers, Clarence S., 212 

Powers, D. F., 215 

Prann, C. Perry, 162 

Pratt, Henry S., 279 

Pratt, Julius, 84, 93, 208, 212 

Prattsville, 277 

Preble, Howard B., 271 

Press- Recorder, 206 

Proudman, Arthur, 257 

Prouty, Willis J., 115, 281 

Przywara, Bronislaus, 192 

Psalter, 38 

Ptak, Walenty, 147 

Public institutions, 238 ff. 

Puit, Adam, 4 

Pulaski, Joseph S., 192 

Pulver, H. Leslie, 147 



312 



INDEX 



Punty, Mrs. Edward, 27 
Quinlan, Alderman, 144 
Quinnipiac Tribe, 6 ff. 
Quinnipiack, 2 
Race, Mrs. William H., 26 

Radio Stations: W.D.R.C., Hartford, 229; 
W.M.M.W., Meriden, 182, 229; W.A.T.R.- 
TV., Waterbury, 229 
Radtke, Arthur J., 192 
Rahner, Charles, 192 

Railroads: Boston and Maine Railroad, 72; 
Consolidated Railroad (New Haven), 76, 
78; Hartford and New Haven Railroad, 
71 f.; Hartford and Springfield Railroad, 
72; Meriden and Cheshire Railroad, 75; 
Meriden and Cromwell railroad line, 76, 
78; Meriden Horse Railroad, 90, 111; 
Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut 
River Railroad Co., 78; Meriden and 
Waterbury Railroad, 78-9; Middletown, 
Meriden, and Waterbury Railroad Co., 
79; New Haven and Northampton Rail- 
road, 75; New Haven Railroad, 70; New 
York and New England Railroad, 79; 
New York and New Haven Railroad, 72; 
New York, New Haven and Hartford 
Railroad, 72, 75, 79 f., Ill, 218; Spring- 
field, Hartford, and New Haven Rail- 
road, 72 

Railway Express, 75 

Rainer, Luise, 187 

Rand, Philip C, 219 

Randall, Arthur T., 263 

Randall, H. B., 182 

Raven, Carl E., 224 

Raven, J. F., 224 

Recican, William J., 147 

Reed, William D., 127 f. 

Reeves, Herbert J., 173, 226 

Rehm, Arthur A., 147 

Reilly, Robert, 192 

Reilly, Thomas L, 109, 116, 129, 143, 152, 
156, 194, 203 f. 

Religious Teachers Filippini, 297 

Remy, William, 234 

Retail business, 218 ff. 

Revere, Lee F., 173 

Revere, Paul, 44 

Revolutionary War, 44-9, 60 

Rexford, Benjamin, 44, 49 

Rexford, Benjamin, Jr., 49 

Reynolds, John, 194 

Reynolds, John D., 209 

Ribicoff, Abraham, 159 

Ricci, J. M., 131 

Ricci, Leo, 131 f. 

Ricciardi, Philip, 179 

Rice, Abel, 29 

Rice, Allen, 83 

Rice, Betty, 252 

Rice, Ezekiel, 45 

Rice, Ezekiel, Jr., 25 

Rice, Ezra, 30, 49 

Rice, Gideon, 46, 49 

Rice, Hezekiah, 83 

Rice, Isaac, 49 

Rice, Joseph, 45, 49 

Rice, Jotham, 49 

Rice, Justus, 49 

Rice, Reuben, J., 114 

Rice, Robert S., 28 

Rice, Samuel, 24, 46, 49 

Rice, Silas, 28 

Rice, Solomon, 49 

Rice, Wait, 49 

Rice family, 25 

Rich, Ezekiel, 49 

Richardson, Ransom L., 247 

Richardson, Samuel, 53 

Ridley, Edwin W., 192 

Riggs, Luther G., 205 f. 



Riker, A. Lawrence, 182 

Ripley, Erastus, 52 

Roads and Travel, 30 ff. 

Roark, Edward A., 105 

Roberts, Charles A., 100 

Roberts, John D., 253 

Robinson, Donald T., 190, 192 

Robinson, John, 49 

Robinson, Joseph, 177 

Robinson, Levi, 49 

Robinson, Robert I., 192 

Robinson family, 11 

Rockney, History of New Haven County, 70 

Rockwell, Charles, 257 

Rockwell, Charles F., 157, 211 

Rockwell, Charles L., 198, 214 

Rockwell, George, 91 

Rockwell, William F., 201 

Rogers, Asa, 89 

Rogers, George W., 236 

Rogers, Gilbert, 211 ff. 

Rogers, Hervey, 71 

Rogers, Joseph E., 192 

Rogers, Malcolm, 295 

Rogers, Simeon, 89 

Rogers, William, 89 

Rogoz, Joseph R., 165 

Rollins, George, 133 

Rooney, Pat, Sr., 128 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 148, 183 

Ropes, David N., 212 

Roraback, J. Henry, 198 

Rosi, James, 192 

Royce, Ezekial, 44 

Royce, Samuel, 44 

Royce family, 1 1 

Roys, Samuel, 10 

Rudolph, Fred, 234 

Runge, Kenneth C, 192 

Russell, Sol Smith, 128 

Rust, T. S., 114 

Rybeck, William H., 241 

Ryder, Elisha, 199 

Rzegocki, Theodore J., 192 

St. Arnauld, Earl L., 147 

St. Onge, Edward O., 192 

St. Onge, Joseph F., 192 

Saleski, Joseph C, 192 

Salisbury, 65 

Saltonstall, Henry W., 212 

Sands, Frank E., 140, 203 f., 254 

Savage, Albert W., 255 

Savage, George E., 257 

Savage, Leonard S., 215 

Saviteer, Howard F., 241 

Savoys, The, 132 

Sawyer, Bertrand K., 192 

Scanlon, John J., 126, 236 

Scarfo, John V., 192 

Schaefer, Francis J., 192 

Scharmer, Carl A., Jr., 192 

Schenck, M. B., 257 

Schenck, William A., 157 

Schleiter, H. L., 213 

Schlette, Fred, 234 

Schneider, Nicholas F. X., 269 

Schools: Benjamin Franklin, 23, 234, 290, 
292; Center School, 39, 277; "Central 
School," 279; Central Grammar, 281, 288; 
Church Street, 284, 286 f.; Connecticut 
School for Boys, 245-6; Corner District, 
278 f.; evening classes, 280-1, 289; Frank- 
lin Street, 287; Hanover (Robert Morris), 
234, 286, 290; High School Annex, 289- 
90; Israel Putnam, 290, 292 f.; Jefferson 
Junior High, 286, 291 f.; John Barry, 
279, 287, 290 ff.; Jonathan Trumbull, 
287, 290 ff.; Lincoln Junior High (West 
Grammar), 282, 286, 291 f.; Meriden 
High School, 134, 136 f., 167, 279, 281-4, 
286, 288 ff.; Meriden Institute, 277 f.; 



313 



INDEX 



Meriden Trade, 284; Nathan Hale, 286, 
290 ff., 297; North Broad Street, 277, 
287; North Center School, 39-41; North 
Colony Street, 289; Nurses' Training 
School, 240 f. ; of Adele S. Booth, 278, 
281; of Edward C. Wheatley, 280; of 
German-American School Association, 278 
f.; Roger Sherman, 287, 292, (Annex, 
290 ff.); St. John's Parochial, 295; St. 
Joseph's Parochial, 297; St. Laurent's 
Parochial, 295; St. Mary's Parochial, 295 
f.; St. Rose's Parochial, 296; St. Stanis- 
laus' Parochial, 296-7; Samuel Hunting- 
ton, 277, 292 f. ; South Broad Street, 277, 
292; South Center, 279; Southeast, 288; 
Stone Schoolhouse, 39; Wilcox Technical 
(State Trade), 136, 288 f., 294; Willow 
Street, 288 

Schuerer, Herman, 228 

Schultz, C. A., 182 

Schultz, C. W., 182 

Schultz, R. A., 182 

Schultz, W. M., 182 

Schunack, C. E., 212 

Scott, Roy, 179 

Scovil, David, 49 

Scovil, Elijah, 49 

Scovil, Elisha, 49 

Scovil, Samuel, 45 

Seekamp, Robert W., 7 

Seeley, George, 1952 

Sembler, Elizabeth, 271 

Sesquicentennial, 122, 231, 261, 301 

Setterling, Einer C, 198, 200 

Seventh Day Adventists, 272 

Sexton, John R., 255 

Seymour, F. J., 86 

Shailer, Joseph, 45 f., 49 

Sharp, Hattie, 133 

Shepard, Odell, 6, 9; Connecticut Past and 
Present, 18 f. 

Shepley, G. N., 115 

Sheridan's Army, 96 

Shiffer, Fred L, 263 

Shippee, Lester E., 210 

Siaflas, Thomas J., 147 

Silliman, Benjamin, in American Journal 
of Science, 19 

Simpson, Samuel, 88 

Simsbury, 43, 64 

Sisters of The Assumption, 295 

Sisters of Mercy, 264, 296 f. 

Sisters of St. Joseph, 297 

Sklar, Mr. and Mrs. Ezak, 132 

Sklar, George, 132 

Slagle, Frederick, R., 177, 188 

Slater, Morris, 133 

Slavery, 66 ff. 

Smith, Blanche, Hixson, 202 

Smith, David P., 142, 243 

Smith, E. E., 157 

Smith, E. W., 212, 239 

Smith, Edwin, 202 

Smith, Frank D., 212 

Smith, George, 177 

Smith, George W., 213 

Smith, Kenneth E., 192 

Smith, Stephen L., 152, 157 

Smith, Wayne C, 202 

Smith, Mrs. William Rice, 258 

Smithsonian Institution, 82 

Smollett, Tobias Co., 53 

Snow, Glover A., 77, 255 

Snow, Oliver, 84 

"The Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel in Foreign Parts," 13 

Sokel, George J., 209 

Somers, J. E., 223 

Song of Meriden, xi 

Sothern, E. H., 128 

South Meriden, 25, 107, 171, 234 f, 237, 



257, 267 f., 287, 298 f. 

Southern New England Telephone Co., 105, 
145, 199 

Southington, 186, 197, 201, 224, 253, 264, 
271 

Sowheag, 6 

Spanish War, 108 ff. 

Spear, Carlton P., 219 

Spear, Lewis M., 219 

Spencer, Thomas, 49 

Spicer, Ernest W., 109 

Spinelli, James V., 192 

Sports celebrities, 134 ff. 

Sprafke, Bernard, 234 

Springfield, Mass., 36 

Spruce Glen, 7 

Squire, Allan B., 31, 33, 70 

Squire, Mrs. Robert A., 215 

Squire, Mrs. Roger W., 215 

Squire, Wilbur H., 114, 228 

Stafinski, Theodore T., 192 

Stamford, 2 

Staniland, Horace G., 147 

Stanley, George W., 59 

Staszewski family, 22 

State Board Department of Education, 284ff. 

State Employment Service, 199 

State Guard, 184 

State Railroad Commission, 77 

Sterne, Laurence, 53 

Stetson, Albert L., 114 

Stevens, Elizur Seneca, 92 

Stevens, Evarts C, 172 f. 

Stevens, Frank A., 114 

Stevens, Frederick M., 172 

Stevens, Frederick M., Jr., 27 

Stevens, Harry A., 114 

Stevens, Helen, 248 

Stevens, John B., 173 

Stevens, Maltby, 172 f. 

Stillman, A. B., 94, 205 

Stith, Robert, 267 

Stockwell, Harry, 221 

Stoddard, John E., 161, 293 

Stormy Point, battle of, 46 

Storts Welding Co., 171 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 128 

Strauss, Robert M., 193 

Stremlau, Julius C, 194 

Stretch, Harlan J., 147 

Stringer, George L., 173 

Stringer, Norman J., 255 

Suffolk, siege of, 96 

Sullivan, Joseph A., Jr., 192 

Summer, George C, 147 

Summit, 78 

"Sunshine" (steamer), 77 

Sutliff, John, 87 

Surowiecki, Walter, 136 

Suzio, Leonard, 119, 225 

Swamp Fort, battle of, 43 

Swider, John, 147 

Swift, Jonathan, 53 

Szymaszek, Edward J., 192 

Tait, John, 213, 239 

Talcott, John, 4 

Tappert, C. Reinhold, 269 

Taylor, Hoyt C, 241 

Taylor, Stephen, 209 

Taylor, Zachary, 235 

Teagle, Donald J., 192 

Terrell, Claude, 121 

Terrell, W. F., 226 

Terry, James T., 238 

Tetreault, Albert J., 192 

Theaters: Air Dome Theater, 132; Bijou 
Theater, 132; Capitol Theater, 131; Com- 
munity Playhouse, 130 f.; Crystal Theater, 
132; Delavan Opera House, 127f.; East 
Main Street Poli Theater, 131; Fox-Poli 
Palace, 131; Life Theater, 131; Loew PoH 









314 



INDEX 



Palace Theater, 130 f., 187; Meriden Poll 
Palace, 131; Poli Theater, 129 f.; Star 
Theater, 132 
Thomas, E. R., 91 
Thomas, O. F., 91 
Thomas, Samuel, 91 
Thompson, C. C, 287 
Thompson, Denman, 128 
Thompson brothers, 66 
Tobie, Llewellyn A., 213 
Tolles, A., 132 
Tompkins, Durwood, 234 

Topographical features, parks, and playing 
fields: Allen Hill, 7, 34; Baldwin's Beach, 
233; Baldwin's Pond, 233; Beaver Pond, 33, 
233; Black Pond, 20, 101 f.; Blue Mountains, 
35; Bradley Park, 116, 271; Broad Brook, 
101; Brookside Park, 77, 112, 135, 232-3, 
234; Camp's Meadow, 77; Ceppa Field, 271; 
City Park, 232, 234, 244; Columbus Park, 
149 f. ; Connecticut River, 37, 73, 75; 
Crow Hollow, 19, 82; Dog's Misery, 11, 
20, 28, 30; Dossin Park, 233; East Main 
Street Hill, 62; East Peak, 227 ff., Foster 
Lake, 102; Golden Parlor Mine, 64; "Green 
Swamp," 33; Hanging Hills, 20, 64, 227, 
244; Hanover Park, 112, 116 f., 124, 136, 
194, 257; Hanover Pond, 113, 233 f.; 
Harbor Brook, 4, 20, 63, 69, 81 f., 176, 
203, 232-3; Hemlock Grove, 116; Holt's 
Hill, 72; Hubbard Park, 190, 227-32, 234; 
Insilco Field, 234; Johnson Hill, 101; 
Legion Park, 257; Little League Field, 
234; Little Plain, 20; Meeting House Hill, 
7, 11, 20; Mining Hill, 64; Mirror Lake, 
228, 230, 232; Mt. Lamentation, 4, 7, 9, 
20; Mt. St. Joseph, 296; Mt. Tom, 229; 
Napier Park, 181; Peat Works Pond, 7; 
Pilgrim's Harbor, 4, 11, 20, 30, 32; 
Pratt's Pond, 77, 83; Quinnipiac River, 7, 
69, 81 f, 107, 117; Red Bridge, 7, 233; 
Sag Harbor, 77; Shelter Island, 77; 
Smith's Crossing, 77; Sodom Brook, 82; 
Twiss Pond, 78; Wallace's Bridge, 112; 
Walnut Grove, 56, 64, 115; Washington 
Park, 150; West Mountain, 100 f.; West 
Peak, 24, 150, 227 f., 251 

Tracy, A. W., 152, 239 

Tracy, John, 105 

Transportation (journal), 77 

Tredennick, C. H., 129 

Tremaine, Burton G., 177 

Tremaine, Burton G., Jr., 177 

Trigilio, Joseph J., 192 

Trostel, Harold C, 192 

Trottier, Emil J., 147 

Troy, Albert, 267 

Trumbull, 8 

Trumbull, John H., 146 

Tryon, General, 47 

Tryon, C. Howard, 204 

Tunxis Tribe, 8 

Twiss brothers, 57 

Tyler, John, 235 

Tyler, Samuel, 139 

Tyler's Division, 95 

Ulbrand, William J., 147 

Ulisney, Edith Lipke, 271 

Ulysses, George, 132 

Umansky, Samuel, 220 

Underwood, Joseph C, 147 

United Colonies of New England, 5 

Upham, Charles L., 94, 100, 152, 213, 219 

Upham, Francis C, 94, 219 

Upham, William H., 219 

Van Buren, Martin, 36 

Van Nostrand, George, 103 

Van Oppen, Alphonsus John Henry, 260, 
266 

Vernon, Thomas, 215 

Veterans' Organizations: American Legion, 



Meriden Post No. 45, 142, 150, 256-7, 
260; Disabled American Veterans, Chap- 
ter 6, 256; Grand Army of the Republic, 
124, 143; Italian-American World War 
Veterans, D'Amico Post No. 7, 256; Jewish 
War Veterans, Post No. 92, 256; Marine 
Corps League, Silver City Detachment, 
256; Military Order of the Purple Heart, 
Meriden Chapter, 256; Polish American 
Veterans, Meriden Post, 256; Sons of the 
American Revolution, 49; Captain John 
Couch Branch No. 2, Connecticut Society, 
257; Sons of Union Veterans, Charles L. 
Upham Camp No. 7, 255 f.; United Serv- 
ice Organizations, Meriden Center, 184 f., 
188 f.; United Spanish War Veterans, 
Captain Charles B. Bowen Camp, 109, 
124, 256; United Veterans' Council, 242, 
255-6; Veterans of Foreign Wars, La 
Croix Murdock Post No. 585, 256; Vet- 
erans' Service Commission, 188; Yankee 
Division Veterans Association, Feegoi- 
Tyler Chapter, 256. See also Catholic 
War veterans' organizations; 

Virginia, siege of, 96 

Wadsworth, Colonel, 45 

Wadsworth, General, 46 

Wadsworth, Joseph, 43 

Wallingford, 1 ff., 6, 10 f., 32, 38, 47, 50, 
58 ff., 74, 77, 92, 124, 132, 174, 186, 201, 
220, 235, 238, 240 f., 253, 255, 264, 271 

Wallingford Purchase Lands, 10-11 

Walnut Grove Cemetery, 25 

Walsh, "Big Ed," 135 

Walsh, James F., 166 f. 

Walsh, Young Ed, 135 

Walters, Zoe, 268 

Walther, Eric A., 211 

Walther, W. H., 255 

Waltz, Sammy, 135 

War of 1812, 44 

Warner, Charles, 104 

Warner, "Pop," 136 

Warnock, Julia Lansing Hull, 203 

Warnock, Thomas H., 202 f. 

Warshauer, J. H., 220 

Washington, George, 35 f., 46, 60 

Washington, William H., 147 

Washington Engine Co. No. 2, 104 

Washington Hose Co. No. 2, 104 

Waterbury, 24, 77 

Waterman, Moses, 95 

Watrous, W. H., 91 f. 

Watson, Philip B., 255 

Way, Abner, 49 

Way, Moses, 49 

Wayne, Anthony, 46 

Webb, Bessie Livingston, 240 

Webb, John, 25, 215 

Webster, Noah, New Speller, 41 

Weeks, George W., 205 

Weisleder, Leo E., 216 

Welliver, Kenneth B., 265 

Wendover, Sanford H., 204 

Wentworth, Teddy, 132 

Wentworth, Vesta, 132 

Werner, Oscar, 269 

Wesleyan University, 264 

West Cheshire, 78 

West, E. E., 152 

West Meriden, 12, 62, 69, 153, 235, 265 

Westfield, 77, 80, 176 

Westhaver, H. N., 182 

Wethersfieid, 21, 32 f. 

Wethersfield Prison, 83 

Wetmore, A. C, 208, 213 

Whalon, William R., 192 

Wheatley, Edward C, 280 

Wheatley, Harold L., 214 

Wheatley, L. F., 240 

Wheeler, Stanley B., 147 



315 



INDEX 



Whisler, J. E., 182 

White, A. J., 226 

White, Amos, 62, 235 

White, Carter H., 24, 55, 202 

White, H. K., 215 

White, Henry F., 147 

White, Russell, 25 

White family, 25 

White Plains, battle of, 46 

Whiting, Samuel, 58 

Whiting family, 11 

Whitney, Benjamin, 16 

Whitney, William H., 139 

Wieszcholek, Peter, 147 

Wightman, J. S., 213 

Wifcox, Albert H., 32, 114 

Wilcox, Dennis C, 87 f., 90, 100 

Wilcox, Ernest C, 181 

Wilcox, Frank N., 22 

Wilcox, Frederick P., 91 

Wilcox, George H., 88, 91, 172 

Wilcox, H. S., 62 

Wilcox, Horace C, 75, 78 f., 86 ff., 90 f., 
100, 127, 152, 172, 201, 239, 243 

Wilcox, Jedediah, 83, 86, 100 

Wilcox, Roy C, 34, 172, 243 

Wilcox, William J., 188, 255 

Wilkinson, Charles E., 147 

Williams, Charles Merriam, 245 

Williams, Jack, 192 

Williams, John R., 212 

Williams, Mildred R., 144, 146 

Williams, Richard, 246 

Wilson, E. A., 239 

Wilson, G. H., 95, 152, 239 

Wilson, O. G., 205 

Winder, Fred J., 220 

Winslow, Carlton H., 179 

Winston, Robert, 205 

Winthrop, John, 1 f., 5 

Wismar, Adolph H., 266 

Women's Auxiliaries: American Legion, 256 
f.; Disabled American Veterans, 256; 
Gold Star Association, 256; Italian-Amer- 
ican War Veterans, 256; Marine Corps 
League, 256; Memorial Hospital, 243; 
Meriden Hospital, 239; Polish-American 
Veterans, 256; Veterans of Foreign Wars, 
256 

Women's organizations: Business and Pro- 
fessional Women's Club, 258; Charity 
Club, 258; City Mission Society, 258; 
Daughters of the American Revolution, 
Ruth Hart Chapter, 258; Susan Carrington 
Clarke Chapter, 258; Junior Woman's Club, 
258; National Society of New England 
Women, Meriden Colony, 258; Thursday 
Morning Club, 246, 258; Woman's Club, 
258; Women's Christian Temperance Union, 
258. See also Service Clubs, Women's 
Auxiliaries. 

Woodbridge, 6 

Woodbridge's "geography," 40 



Wooley, Harry, 147 

Working Men's Free Bed Fund, 253 

Works Program Administration, 244 

World War 1, 118, 129 f., 138 ff., 169 f., 

180 f., 197, 287 
World War I Memorial, 143 ff. 
World War II, 116, 151, 171, 174, 176, 

179 ff., 183 ff., 195, 218, 232, 241, 254, 

299 
Worley, Edgar, 192 
Woronick, Bronislaus, 192 
Woronick, Julius (Great Mephisto), 135 
Wright, Colonel, 96 
Wright, Dexter R., 95 
Wunsch, Herbert A., 192 
Wusterbarth, Carlton W., 192 
Wusterbarth, Harold J., 221 
Y Community Forum, 251 
Yale, Abel, 29 
Yale, Amerton, 49 
Yale, Bertrand, 236 
Yale, Charles, 57 
Vale, Daniel, 49 
Yale, David, 27 
Yale, Elwood, 224 
Yale, Fred L., 224 
Yale, Frederick E., 224 
Yale, Hiram, 57 
Yale, Ira N., 235 
Yale, Joel, 22 
Yale, John, 22, 49 
Yale, Jonathan, 49 
Yale, Levi, 62, 235 
Yale, Lewis, 212 
Yale, Moses, 29 
Yale, Nash, 49 
Yale, Nathaniel, 46, 49 
Yale, Noah, 26 f., 47 
Yale, Oliver M., 224 
Yale, Samuel, 31, 209 
Yale, Thomas, 26 f. 
Yale, Waitstill, 49 
Yale, William, 209 
Yale family, 1 1 
Yale University, 132 
Yalesville, 34, 115, 145, 267 f. 
Young, H. C, 208 
Young, Matilda A., 190 
Young, Richard H., 192 
Youngs, Mrs. C. H., 251 
Zabel, Emil W., 147 
Zajac, Ben, 136 
Zavaglia, Raymond, 192 
Zawacki, Frank A., 192 
Zebora, Rudolph J., 192 
Zeitung, Alpeck, 172 
Zimmer, Charles, 164 
Zimmer, Rodney, 165 
Zlotowski, Victor Leo, 192 
Zubler, Joseph, 193 
Zuckerman, Maurice, 222 
Zuckerman, Stanley, 184 
Zuraw, Edward J., 192 



316 



Sesquicentennial 
Celebration Week 

June 17-23, 1956 



SUNDAY, JUNE 17th CHURCH DAY - RELIGION 

Master of Ceremonies — Parker B. Allen, General Chairman 
President , Charles Parker Co. 

A.M. Special Services, All Churches 

8-8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 
Buckwheat Hill 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Aleriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

2-5 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

2- 5 Open House, Meriden Hospital, Cook Avenue 

2- 5 Open House, Memorial Hospital, Paddock Avenue 

2:30 Band Concert, Hubbard Park 

3: 30 Official Opening of Meriden Sesquicentennial Celebration — 
General Chairman — Hubbard Park 

Invocation 

Address — Mayor 

Dedication of Music Shell 

Benediction 

Choral Group Singing 
7 Pet Show, Columbus Park 
9:15 Fireworks, Columbus Park 



MONDAY, JUNE 18th SCHOOL DAY - EDUCATION 

Master of Ceremonies — Attorney George E. McGoldrick 
President, Meriden Board of Education 

Visitation of public and parochial schools all day, 

especially by former students and teachers. 

Special Sesqui exercises 

A.M. 

8- 8 p.m. Open House, Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 
Buckwheat Hill 

9-9 Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

6-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

2- 5 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

3 Tennis Match C. C. I. L., Hubbard Park 

4 Golf Tournament (local), Municipal Golf Course 
6:30 Exhibition Softball Game, Washington Park 

7 Preview Meriden Industrial Exhibit, State Armory 

7- 9 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

7:15 Sesqui Social, City Hall Auditorium 

7:30 Coronation of Miss Sesquicentennial, Insilco Field 

8 Block Dance, John Barry School Yard 
8:30 Historical Pageant, Insilco Field 



TUESDAY, JUNE 19th INDUSTRIAL DAY 

Master of Ceremonies — Norman J. Stringer 

President, The Manufacturer's Association of Meriden 

and Wallingford, Inc. 

A.M. 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 

Buckwheat Hill 

9- 9 p.m. Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

12-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

2-5 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

2-10 Industrial Exhibit, State Armory 

3 Tennis Match C. C. I. L., Hubbard Park 

3:30 Elementary School Track Meet, 1, 2, and 3 grades, 
Washington Park 

3:30 Junior High School Track Meet, Ceppa Field 

4 Golf Tournament (local), Municipal Golf Course 

8 Choral Festival, Music Shell, Hubbard Park 

9 Sesqui Dance, City Hall Auditorium 



WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20th GOVERNOR'S DAY 

Master of Ceremonies — Judge Denis T. O'Brien, Jr. 

A.M. 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 

Buckwheat Hill 

9- 9 p.m. Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

12-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

2-5 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

2-10 Industrial Exhibit, State Armory 

3 Tennis Matches C. C. I. L. (finals), Hubbard Park 

3 High School Track Meet, Ceppa Field 

3 Elementary School Track Meet, 4, 5, and 6 grades 

Washington Park 

4 Golf Tournament (local), Municipal Golf Course 

6 Invitation Softball Teams, Washington Park 

6 Exhibition Water Ballet Teams, Hubbard Park Swimming 
Pool 

7-9 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

8:30 Historical Pageant, Insilco Field 

9 Brothers of the Bush Rock and Roll Dance, City Hall 
Auditorium 



THURSDAY, JUNE 21st CELEBRITY DAY 

Master of Ceremonies — 
Former Mayor, Attorney Francis R. Danaher 

A.M. 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 

Buckwheat Hill 

9- 9 Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

12-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

2-5 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

2-10 Industrial Exhibit, State Armory 

3:30 Doll Carriage Parade, Washington Park 

3:30 Marble Contest, Washington Park 

3:30 Bicycle Races, Washington Park 

4 Golf Tournament (local), Municipal Golf Course 

6 Invitation Softball Tournament, Washington Park 

7- 9 Arts & Crafts Association Exhibition, Horace Wilcox 
Technical School 

8:30 Historical Pageant, Insilco Field 

8 Block Dancing, John Barry School Yard 



FRIDAY, JUNE 22nd HOMECOMING DAY 
Master of Ceremonies — Former Mayor William J. Cahill, Jr. 

A.M. 

All Day, Family Reunions and Visitations to Points of Interest 
about the City 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 

Buckwheat Hill 

9- 9 p.m. Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 
10-5 p.m. Static Displays, Local Airport 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

12-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

4 Golf Tournament (local), Muncipal Golf Course 

6 Softball Tournament (Semi-finals), Washington Park 

8 Meriden Symphony Orchestra, Music Shell, Hubbard Park 

8 Block Dance, John Barry School Yard 



SATURDAY, JUNE 23rd COMMUNITY DAY 

Master of Ceremonies — Arthur F. Eggleston 
President, The Lane Construction Corporation 

A.M. 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 
Buckwheat Hill 

9-12 Special Displays, Curtis Memorial Library 

9 Local Golf Tournament (Semi-finals), Municipal Golf 
Course 

P.M. 

12-8 p.m. Open House, Meriden Historical Society, Andrews 
Homestead 

12-12 midnight Silver City Side Show & Rides, Columbus Park 

1 Open House, Y.M.C.A. 

2 Sesqui Parade 

9 Senior Sesqui Ball, State Armory 
9 Junior Sesqui Ball, Crystal Ballroom 



SUNDAY, JUNE 24th CARRY-OVER ACTIVITIES 

8- 8 p.m. Open House Ground Observer Corps., G. O. C. Post, 

Buckwheat Hill 

9 Golf Tournament Finals (local), Municipal Golf Course 

9- 5 p.m. Model Airplane Meet, Columbus Park 

10 Softball Tournament Finals, Washington Park 



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